Atsuko Kudo is the Japanese designer who brought latex-wear out of the world of fetishes and into the mainstream.
“My ambition is still to dress the Queen,” she tells HuffPost UK.
“Stylistically I wouldn’t stray too much from the kind of thing she already wears - but of course it would have to be latex.”
We caught up with the designer ahead of the launch of her collaboration with Veuve Clicquot, the champagne brand celebrating the Seven Deadly Sins as part of their annual art installation, the ‘Widow’ series.
Hosted by Carine Roitfeld, the two-day event taking place in London on 20 and 21 October will be decked out by renowned opera set designer Patrick Kinmonth and Kudo is contributing designs to represent the seventh sin: Lust.
She discussed ideas surrounding women and their sexuality, the trend of lingerie worn as outerwear and whether she considers any part of that a ‘sin,’ or simply a woman’s right.
Do you think ‘lust’ is the ‘sin’ that most suits your stylistic take on garment making?
Because I design exclusively in latex, I understand that my clothing is often concerned with a sensual and sexual experience.
So if lust is a sin then it’s probably the most suitable of the seven! I’d also like to think that my designs are concerned with love, empowerment and respect.
So of the other sins it’s possible it could be associated with pride - as in being proud to wear latex for those reasons.
We loved your play on the idea of the “modest woman” in your New York collection. What are your thoughts on modesty and fashion?
In some ways modesty can seem outdated as it can be confused with prudishness.
I am most concerned with designing clothing that can help the person wearing it to look and feel beautiful, feminine and strong.
What the clothing reveals and what it doesn’t reveal, should be in the hands of the person choosing to wear it.
And being covered or semi covered is more often - I think - sexier than total nudity. I hope my designs make that choice deeper and hopefully more empowering.
When I design for our shows I always try to present several different moods - so there is something for every occasion.
Were you always confident the trend of wearing latex would take off as it has for your brand?
I first tried latex clothing myself when I was at college in Japan (a long time ago!) I felt it was thrilling and made me feel like a superwoman.
I thought if I felt like that about it other women might also feel the same - if I could design pieces, which they would enjoy.
So it started from there. Now more women enjoy wearing this unique fabric and I am happy if I have been responsible for it in any way.
Many of the ladies who wear your creations are superstars with lots of confidence. How do your garments make normal women, who may not be as confident, feel good in their skin?
We dress many women from all over the world and the vast majority are not famous.
It’s important to understand that all women come in different shapes and sizes including celebrities.
My job is to make every person who wears the clothing feel special and create a moment for them that is outside of everyday reality.
It’s a myth that you need the perfect body to wear latex. Atsuko Kudo
If latex clothing is cut correctly (as I hope mine is) then it will act like the best kind of shapewear and enhance your natural assets - but it must be cut correctly.
Then anyone can enjoy the feeling it gives - making the best of what you have.
Was it always your intention to showcase your work in lingerie as outerwear?
I’ve always considered it pointless to distinguish between categories of clothing.
I only work in latex, so the difference between lingerie and outerwear gets quite blurred.
But then I also think you don’t have to just wear a mac only when it’s raining.
You can wear whatever suits your mood.
What kind of outcome are you anticipating from your collaboration with Veuve Clicquot?
This project is so inspiring because of the subject (Seven Deadly Sins) but also because of the opportunity to work with such amazing people as Carine Roitfeld and Patrick Kinmonth.
I am excited and a little nervous because the expectation working with such talented people is very high.
The ideas we’ve put together will be very interesting and hopefully will inspire others.
We don’t have the sins listed in this way in Japanese so I’m naturally fascinated by them.
What outfits can we expect for your “lust” section at the Veuve Clicquot Widow Series?
I can’t give too much away as to the looks at this stage - you’ll have to come to the exhibition and see. It will be expressive and about more than the outfits.
But I can say that it will be sexy, shiny and hopefully lustful in all the right ways!
Book tickets to see Atsuko Kudo’s ‘Lust’ designs at Veuve Clicquot’s Widow Series.