How did “fetishwear” take fashion by storm?
If you’ve ever worn a harness or a latex suit, this article is for you.
It’s safe to say: the fashion and fetish combo is not new. However, it took advantage of the Met Gala and
the VMAs ceremony to mark its big comeback. As evidenced by the appearance of Kim Kardashian, wrapped from
head to toe in a black cotton “T-shirt” Balenciaga. Red’ Men’s Running Shoes Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala 2021
The star was closely followed by Madonna, dressed in a total leather look in a spirit SM maid, surely one of
the few stars to have never dropped the genre. She is the goddess of provocation, the aficiononada of the riding
crop, of hot clips where lovers tie themselves to bed rails, the ace of the harness, or the author of the book
Sex that scandalized puritan America in the 1990s. Let’s not forget her latest opus, entitled Madame X… We
can then legitimately wonder the reasons for this great comeback.
“The re-emergence of fetish fashion is partly a reaction to containment,” Professor Andrew Groves, who recently
curated Undercover, an exhibition looking back at the wearing of masks in public spaces, told The Guardian earlier
this month. If this is the case, it’s not really surprising. During those long months when we were undercover,
the government dictated its own rules, controlled our bodies and our every move.
The pandemic and the obligation to wear a mask would therefore have strongly aroused tensions and the desire
to indulge in new fantasies. A theory that is of course felt on the fashion scene. For several seasons, houses
and designers have been playing with the BDSM aesthetic and pushing the limits. They bet on gender and sexuality
to sign looks that can be as poetic as libidinous, like Ludovic de Saint Sernin who, with his signature eyelet
briefs, managed to create a real craze every season, or Moschino by Jeremy Scott who operated, without anyone
expecting it, a 360 degree turn during the men’s Fashion Week fall-winter 2022-2022. He abandoned his regressive
fluo looks for a dominatrix wardrobe in due form: zipped leather hood, latex briefs, harness, leather mask and
gloves, biker cap … All presented in a Milanese hangar, with techno at full volume.
Moschino fall-winter 2022-2022
Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner and Evan Mock have been quick to embrace the “fetishwear”
trend previously associated with intimacy and fantasy… Is this new appeal for BDSM – understand sadomasochistic
sexual practice – a way to reaffirm one’s – or her – freedom? Vogue answers.
Sexual fetishism, what is it?
Let’s start at the beginning. According to the official definition, the term “sexual fetishism” is a “deviation
of the sexual impulses of a subject on a substitute erotic object which can be as well a determined part
of the body – hair, breasts, buttocks – as an object – clothing, shoe.” What happens in the bedroom stays
in the bedroom, you might say. Yet every season, fashion tends to break codes, taboos and barriers of normality.
“We’ve gone from a very repressive society to an over-sexualized society. We have the impression that telling
and showing everything makes us very free and liberated. I believe that finally it is a little the opposite”
– Valerie Tasso, sex therapist
If, in the collective imagination, it is whispered that corsets and skirts in the 1700s were a first sign
of fetish fashion, others say that it would have appeared during the Second World War, in the gay community
in the UK.
Air Jordan Vivienne Westwood
Charlie Ley/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
However, it was not until the 1970s and Vivienne Westwood that the fetish, which she made her trademark, was democratized
in fashion. At the age of 24, the British designer met Malcolm McLaren, an iconic punk figure and manager of the
Sex Pistols. Together, they set up a store – which changed names several times but which we all know as Sex – at
430 Kings Road in London, for which Vivienne Westwood made clothes that McLaren designed. The clothes are inspired
by bikers, fetishists and prostitutes. Like the manifesto of a new fashion era.
Sex and fashion on social networks
How to talk about fetishism without raising the question of social networks… Why do they play such an important
role in the sex and fashion combo? It’s simple, Instagram is the perfect showcase to get known and “sell” yourself,
especially when you have a plethora of fans following you. But the limits are sometimes delicate … “On social
networks, there is a hyper transparency, a hyper visibility in terms of sexuality, especially of young people,”
explains to Vogue Valerie Tasso, French sex therapist based in Barcelona. “We’ve gone from a very repressive society
to an over-sexualized society. We have the impression that telling and showing everything makes us very free and
liberated. I think in the end, it’s kind of the opposite.”
It is often said that social networks are not a reflection of life. On the other hand, they allow you to dare,
to show what you want and above all, to show who you want to be – even if sometimes the image you send back is
far from the reality. For some, they help to expose his fantasies and display them in broad daylight as banners.
Many Instagram accounts are sexual, homoerotic, more or less subtle.
Let’s mention @ecce____homo, driven by Simone Cotellessa, enigmatic fashion influencer. With an account
created in 2022 and now swollen to more than 125K followers, he feeds his feed every day with strange images
that can disturb – or on the contrary excite: shots of curled toes, stilettos paired with a pair of holey
sports socks, close-up of a pair of Calvin Klein underpants… His singular and daring eye has managed
to attract a large community of fans all over the world.
Latex in the front line
For the past few weeks, celebrities have been appearing in outfits with a strong BDSM value: when Billie
Eilish plays the corseted pin-up on the cover of the June 2021 UK Vogue, Kim Kardashian no longer leaves
her house without a full face mask, while model/actor/designer Evan Mock, recognizable by his pink “buzz
cut”, treads the carpet of the 2021 Met Gala with a Thom Browne latex hood on his head. Provocation or
revenge against the pandemic? A bit of both…
Outside of intimacy, leather, Lycra and other accessories can form the subtle and chic “fetishwear” panoply
to dare to display on the red carpet, or in the street. Remember Timothée Chalamet who, in 2022, dressed
from head to toe in Louis Vuitton by Virgil Abloh, imposed the harness as the leading trend of the year.
A starry and elegant passage that was unanimous and already marked a fashion turn, especially in the male
sphere. 555112-400 Air Jordan 1 MID Polka Dot Swoosh Half Blue/black-white Unisex:36-47 Timothée Chalamet in Louis Vuitton
Since 2020, leather gives way to a much more connoted material: latex, until then entrenched in the bedrooms.
The stars have not been slow to adopt it. In March 2020, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian raise the fashion quotient
in a scene from their show Keeping Up With The Kardashian. Ambitious, they try to put on a latex suit designed
by Olivier Rousteing for his Balmain fall-winter 2020-2021 collection. Elasticity and sexyness are at the appointment.
Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello, Balmain, Versace, Walter Van Beirendonck, Richard Quinn… Many designers
have since followed the latex trend, punctuated with Matrix effect details here and a futuristic aesthetic there.
How can we not mention Arthur Avellano, a French designer who has made this material his ultimate spearhead
since his debut in 2022. Coat, T-shirt, maxi-skirts… He revisits in 100% latex version the whole of the essential
of the classic wardrobe. A precursor!
Balmain fall-winter 2020-2021
GoRunway Mens Black Adidas Ultraboost Richard Quinn fall-winter 2021-2022
GoRunway Visit This Site Right Here Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello fall-winter 2020-2021
GoRunway niftykicks Walter Van Beirendonck fall-winter 2022-2022
The pandemic has considerably strengthened the interest of fashion for fetishism and BDSM codes: laguerremartin70, which would be like a will for everyone to take back control of their life and identity – Kim Kardashian can’t
say the opposite -, especially when the status of public personality sticks to the skin. The “fetishwear” seems
to be much more than a trend. Does it mean that those who wear it really practice it: JORDAN SWEATERS FOR WOMEN, or are really aware of what it represents? Nothing is less sure. But if it can make people think and open their minds,
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