Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>Fetish subculture

Culture: Fetish / BDSM
Setting: dungeon
Evolution1975 Anglo-American punk > Fetish subculture

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Fetish 2007 p14
"From the 1970s onward, ... mainstream attitudes toward what had once been considered deviant forms of sexuality slowly began to change.  Fetish fashion made its first foray in the public eye through the punk scene in the UK (and, to a lesser degree, in the United States), which embraced all things kinky, leading to the then shocking sight of teenagers wandering the streets in bondage pants, dog collars, and PVC.  (Since then, from punk to grunge to goth, fetish clothing has continued to be popularized in fashion, from the catwalks to Hollywood movies.)

* Steele ed. 2005 v2 p80-81 (Valerie Steele, "Fetish fashion" p80-81)
"Fetishism moved from the sexual underground into mainstream popular culture via subcultural groups such as punks and leathermen.  A youth subculture associated with bands like the Sex Pistols, the punks appropriated fetish clothing as part of their own 'style in revolt.'  The fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, herself a punk, opened a shop in London called Sex, where she sold bondage trousers, rubber stockings, corsets, and extreme shoes to a clientele divided between real fetishists and young people attracted by the idea of breaking taboos.  Westwood herself wore 'total S&M as fashion' in the early 1970s, not just in private clubs, but on the street, as a way of subverting accepted social values."

* Brame/Brame/Jacobs 1993 p82
"D&Sers are intrigued by power.  In some respects they are as responsible as mainstream individuals for perpetuating the myths about dominants as ruthless or imperious.  ...
    "Novice D&Sers may believe that dominants are singularly appointed, semimystical creatures endowed with the power to reduce submissives to craven supplicants.  This charming fantasy often succumbs to the reality of humanity among those who seek full-fledged relationships.  Many who confine their experiences to episodic encounters, however, prefer to cling to the fantasy of the dominant as ubermensch (or uberfrau)."

* Wiseman 2004 p342
"Muchos de los mejores dominantes no parecen dominantes cuando te encuentras con ellos en el mundo vainilla.  Excepto quizás por una cierta falta de diligencia en obedecerían y una ausencia de ansiedad acerca de tener contacto visual directo, parecen del todo normales.  A menudo se encuentran entre la gente más agradable.  (Muchos hombres dominantes heterosexuales de la comunidad SM destacan en los juegos de palabras.)"

* Goodlad/Bibby eds. 2007 p381 (Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, "Gothic fetishism" p375-397)
"[A]lthough emphasis on sexual provocation and transgression, including fetish and S-M themes and imagery, was part of goth subculture from the start, this pattern of erotic rebelliousness has increasingly been elaborated upon via the explicit and highly visible incorporation of S-M and fetishistic sexual practices to the point that fetish attire and fetish play have now become almost de rigueur at many goth events.  This development, which is connected to a wider interest in alternative sexual practices in twenty-first century America, appears to be one means through which goth seeks to retain its transgressive edge and continue its historical opposition to traditional sexual attitudes that many goths regard as close-minded."

* Brame/Brame/Jacobs 1993 p80
"A final but important component is the aesthetic of D&S: Whether it is pride in one's skilled bondage techniques or selection of outfits that accentuate the submissive's sex appeal, dominants frequently enjoy complex and lengthy rituals of altering the visual and the physical to create an unusual and deeply satisfying image."

Costume (Mask, Clothing, Boots)

* Kunzle 1994 p4-5
"Since around 1960 there has thrived a fetish for total envelopment of the naked body in a 'second skin' of rubber and leather, analogous to that of the diver's wetsuit, but generally of a much finer-gauge material.  These pass commercially as slimming garments, and being occlusive, cause sudden loss of body moisture, which many people find erotic.  Insofar as they are designed to exert a light, even pressure over the whole body, they may be defined as sculptural.  In terms of contour the change caused by a rubber suit is minimal, that of a smoothing out or unifying, although the visual transformation can be striking, like that of a dancer's all-black leotard.  Rubber- or leather-suit fetishism is often combined with truly constrictive fetishes (bondage, corsetry), when of course the body-contour is radically altered.  The paramount psychological factor in rubber-suit fetishism is, however, that of a physical sensation of change in shape via a rise in body temperature, local cutaneous sensations, and small, local muscular restraints; these may combine to create the sense of having acquired a second skin, which is so overwhelming as to offer the experience of a total change of identity." ...

* Cumming/Cunnington/Cunnington 2010 p81
"Fetishist fashion  (F & M)  Period: 1950 onwards.  The psychological state of finding satisfaction by focusing upon a physical fetish, such as underclothing, leather, rubber or shoes, was extended into a system of clothing using those elements, along with chains, plastic or PVC, body piercing and tattooing, to create alternative forms of dress including so-called bondage clothing."

* Steele 1996 p171-172 
"Clothing itself is generally associated with power, and nakedness with its lack. Just as the dominatrix is usually fully clothed, so is the male master. By contrast, the slave, bottom, masochist, or submissive is often (although not inevitably) stripped naked or reduced to wearing clothing that exposes the breasts, buttocks, and/or genitals."

* Brame/Brame/Jacobs 1993 p397
"Close behind leather in popularity is rubber or latex.  England is particularly known for its active cottage industry in rubber garments.  Foreign designers have used rubber to create high-fashion clothing which can pass as evening wear, moving the fetish from the bedroom to the sophisticated soiree."

* Steele 1996 p180 
"Military uniforms are probably the most popular prototype for the fetishist uniform because they signify hierarchy (some command, others obey), as well as membership in what was traditionally an all-male group whose function involves the legitimate use of physical violence.  Soldiers can shoot and stab without constraint.  The erotic connotations of military uniforms derive, in part, from the sexual excitement that many people associate with violence and with the relationship between dominance and submission.  Military uniforms also enhance, the perceived sexual attractiveness of the wearer through the use of phallic signifiers, such as boots and weapons, and through the design of the clothing, which frequently emphasizes the physical body to a degree uncommon in ordinary wear."

* Barker online (describing Hellraiser)
"Nothing springs into my imagination without having inspiration in other things I've seen or experienced.  The Cenobites were no exception.  Their design was influenced amongst other things by punk, by Catholicism and by the visits I would take to S&M clubs in New York and Amsterdam.  Of course the make-up and costume designs only do part of the job.  We were blessed (if that's the right word when it comes to such unholy labours) to have marvellous actors beneath the latex) ...."

Whips (Riding Crop, Cat o' Nine Tails, Bullwhip)

* Steele 1996 p169-171 
"The presence of a whip implies a wish that someone should be beaten.  But who?  And why?  Freud's famous essay 'A Child Is Being Beaten' throws light on the common fantasy of corporal punishment, which is not only about beating because the action is also a metaphor for sex.  ('Beat your meat.')  For psychoanalysts, it involves paying attention to the person being beaten.  In the polarity of passive and active, the conspicuously active person (we can see her arm move) is the one giving the beating.  The passive figure is the one acted on.  It is said to be 'hard work' to be a master or top, and much easier to be a slave or bottom."