Amiya Nagpal interviews Dawn Mostow, the woman dressing Beyoncé in latex

Image credit: Paul Allan

Can you tell us a bit more about the process of turning latex into clothing? Which three tips would you give to an aspiring latex couture designer?

The process begins with a sketch of the garment, and then drafting the pattern while considering seam allowance and stretch.  Latex is available as sheeting on bolts in various thicknesses. The pattern is traced and cut from the sheet, and then the panels are chemically bonded and reinforced.  Zippers, underwire, boning, and other elements of garment construction may be added as desired. Aspiring designers should have a foundation in traditional patternmaking and garment construction. Develop patterns for basic garments as a starting point, then expand from there. Constantly sketch and design garment concepts to cultivate your unique style. Take risks and create something the world has never seen before.

 

And what tips would you give a first time latex-wearer?

You may wish to start with a fabulous statement piece, or a simple, classic garment.  With so many colours, textures, and patterns available, pick your favourite.  Getting dressed in latex can be a challenge for a first-time wearer, so take your time and use the recommended dressing aids (such as silicone or talcum powder).  Wearing latex can often feel empowering, like dressing up in a second skin, so embrace it!

 

Do you think latex fashion can be incorporated into your daily wear, or is it something that is reserved for costume?

It can absolutely be incorporated into daily wear.  In fashion magazines, we often see latex garments as part of an outfit: a skirt or leggings in combination with traditional fabric garments.  Our newest collection for men and women, Waterproof, utilizes latex for raincoats and outerwear—a particularly practical category of garments. 

 

It could be argued that wearing latex fashion requires a specific body type, which in itself is often gendered and racialised too. How do you in your work seek to make it more inclusive and accessible?

All Dawnamatrix garments are available in a range of sizes as well as made-to-measure custom sizing.  As I specialize in custom designs, it’s enjoyable to speak with customers directly regarding their garment ideas and concepts.  There’s really no limit to the styles that can be created for them, and it’s a pleasure and honour to bring these designs to life.

 

You say you strive to merge “fine art with high fashion”. What exactly do you think is the distinction between the two, where does art stop and fashion begin, and vice versa?

The concept behind the design and the hand of the artist are evident in the craftsmanship of the garment’s design where the two meet.

 

You’re heavily influenced by your time in Japan. What has been the reception to your clothing line in Japan?

We are extremely well-received in Japan. Our interpretation of kimono continues to be popular, as well as our Western styles featured on celebrities and in magazines.

 

Latex is expensive. Do you think it will ever become part of the affordable high street/mainstream fashion, or does it remain in a domain of its own, with access being mostly online or in latex-specific stores?

Just as when comparing “fast fashion” stores with boutique brands, pricing for latex varies.  There are mass-produced latex garments available for low cost, and handmade and tailored garments priced for the care and craftsmanship that goes into them. Topshop stores carried latex garments at one point, so it has made its way to the mainstream.

 

Latex and fetish/kink are often intertwined, where do you think latex stands in the kink world?

Regardless of fashion trends and the status of latex within those trends, latex will always be a part of the kink world. However, one does not need to be into fetish or kink to want to wear latex.  Along those lines, it will always be a part of the Hollywood cinema world, SCUBA diving world, and avant garde costuming world.

 

Your work at Harvard centred on fetish fashion, what do you think the effect of fetish coming into academic spheres is?

This allows us to place fetish fashion in a cultural as well as an art historical context.  Previously, fetish was solely the domain of psychology and psychiatry in academia.  When Lady Gaga dressed in a red latex gown to meet Queen Elizabeth II, it was evident a cultural shift had occurred.  

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