Sunday, 30 May 2010

Jenni McKnight interview

Recently I had the pleasure to meet journalism student Jenni McKnight who visited and interviewed me as part of her course. I love the finished article and find it interesting, well written and amusing. I wish Jenni all the best in her career!

The rest of the interview can be read after the cut of the first paragraph:

Handcuffs, Stilettos, Latex and Gimp masks are what may spring to mind when you hear ‘Fetish’. I always picture the scene from ‘Pulp Fiction’ involving the pawn shop and the gimp, a scene that has stuck with me for years and spiked my interest and curiosity in all things fetish. So when I went to meet fetish designer Lady Lucie I was very nervous and expected her to be dressed in a skin tight one piece with 6 inch heels, a dominatrix really. However she greeted me at her studio in Hackney Wick in a pair of trainers, jeans and a stripy t-shirt, relief suddenly washed over me and my nerves disappeared. I immediately noticed our common ground; she too is taller than the average female, standing at an impressive 6ft2 which puts my 5ft11 to shame. I thought she looked quite ‘normal’ really, nothing screamed fetish or different about her and then I noticed her halved shaven head.

Lady Lucie is a hard-working designer, working seven days a week if necessary to get the job done. Her studio looks hectic with workbenches, clothes, fabrics and even a bunk bed (I wonder if she sleeps here also, but later find out she lives close by in Bethnal Green). She has what she calls her inspiration wall, which is covered with pictures of fetish models and flyers from famous clubs like Torture Garden that help her work and give her something to look at (there are no windows) which she assures me is a good thing when working with latex.

Lady Lucie started designing with herself in mind, finding it hard to source clothes that fit her properly (I can sympathise with this) she started to make her own, learning from her mother who was a dressmaker. At the tender age of sixteen she tells me she joined the circus, tightrope walking, jumping through hoops is what I thought but no, the circus was a performing arts school that she designed and made costumes for. It was her final brief for the circus, which involved making corsets that gave her the itch to make more. After two years she took her new pattern cutting skills to Brighton and started to make wedding dresses, at this point I wonder how she went from classic wedding dresses to latex baby doll dresses, “Erotica” she says practically reading my mind. Erotica is the world's largest erotic show and exhibition for adults and Lucie had the chance to do work experience backstage, making out she knew more than she did. A crafty move that made her fall in love with fetish fashion paving the way for her own fetish designs. Any aspect of the fashion industry is notoriously hard to break into with rumours of bitchiness and backstabbing and for Lucie it was no different, “No-one really wanted to help me or show me what to do, it was a case of trial and error.” During all her work experience and paid jobs Lucie found the time to fit in a degree in fashion and textiles, which she says “gave me time to experiment,” and where she really honed in on her talent.

Lucie is not a fan of stereotypical fetish like the 90s dominatrix look or gimp masks, “I think of it as making fashion clothes using latex.” To look at her clothes you can see that she is different from the stereotype, plunge neckline gowns, puff sleeve mini dresses and 50’s circle skirt dresses are some of what you find, but instead of the usual cotton or silk fabrics they are latex. Personally I think they look much more comfortable than I would have imagined; if she happened to have my size in I would have been begging to try some on. Lucie thankfully does not discriminate against the larger woman and her clothes go up to a size 18 on her website, although she informs me she does have larger customers. “You need a bit of body fat” she states and I couldn’t help but agree, I think tight latex looks much better on curves than a skinnier frame. “The thing I really like about latex” she adds “is with a bit of clever pattern cutting you can cut it to enhance your boobs and trim your waist, you don’t have to be that skinny.”

Since moving to London and launching Lady Lucie in 2006 she has found comfort in the London fetish club scene. Attending the infamous Torture Garden once a month and various other fetish clubs helps her get inspiration for future designs and meet potential new clients, “If I see a tall girl in a club, I’ll chat her up, give her my number and try and make her some clothes.” Lucie explains to me that the type of fetish club she goes to is not the clich├ęd bondage rooms and orgies, certain clubs do have these but she tends to stay away from those. Her description of these clubs has a strange affect on me and I am seriously questioning whether to buy a pair of latex leggings and venture out to one to see for myself. According to Lucie everyone is very open-minded (surely you’d have to be) very welcoming and the clothes (or rather lack of) are breathtaking, “as a rule of thumb if people don’t stare at you, you’re not dressed up enough.” The urge is growing on me to accompany her one night but I am brought back to reality when I see a flyer for the Torture Garden, latex bras and tight sailor dresses, I certainly do not have the confidence to wear those outfits. So I just sit and listen imagining what I would wear if I were brave enough, I’m thinking nipple tassels and rubber panties!

Lucie cites designers like Mark Fast, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood as her influences, “I like the craft aspect, and it doesn’t just look man-made.” London is also an inspiration especially around Hackney Wick where she works. Science Fiction movies are another source as she thinks the female leads always dress very sexy, we get caught up for a moment discussing the sex scene from ‘Watchmen’ and I find myself getting carried away talking about the female leads thigh high PVC boots (I add those boots to my nipple tassels and rubber panties, a worthy outfit I believe.)

Lucie has gained many loyal fans and clientele over the years, working with top fetish models like Rubber Doll and Ulorin Vex. I contacted one of the models she frequently works with, the exotically named Morgana, asking for a quick opinion on Lucie, what I got back was a glowing review showing me that Lucie obviously treats her customers well. “She makes stunning latex designs with some very clever ideas. With only a few measurements and no previous fittings everything she made me for shoots has been a perfect fit and also really flattering. She pays great attention to detail and makes fantastic accessories too. I recommend her to all my friends.” Lucie has also collaborated with up and coming designer Rachel Freire on her SS10 collection making a beautiful pair of leopard lip print leggings (amongst other gems) which gained her coverage in the globally sold magazine Arise. She has also taken her designs on the road and shown at Alternative Fashion Week and the Fetish Evolution show in Germany.

I believe that with a talent like Lady Lucie, it will not be long before we see Fetish trickling down to the mainstream. She has made it look certainly more accessible and comfortable than I would have thought and much more glamorous. I’m even considering trading in my trusty black Topshop leggings for a pair of her black latex ones (small steps I tell myself). The next move for Lucie, she hopes is menswear “I don’t think men are as adventurous as women,” I am very curious to see what designs she comes up with for the everyday man. While I feel slightly ashamed inside for stereotyping her before I met her, I am truly blown away by how down to earth and friendly she is. I know there are certain people out there who do live like the stereotype but I am glad that it is Lucie I met, she has made my curiosity of fetishism grow and even has me determined to one day venture into a fetish club, nipple tassels and all.

1 comment:

  1. aw thats a really cool review (and im flattered at the mention!) :D