What is the first thing that comes to mind when Latex is brought up? My guess is that it has nothing to do with high fashion…. until now. Latex is moving further away from fetish and full on into fashion these days… and I had the lovely chance to interview the two ladies that are single handedly spearheading the movement. Sonia Agostino and Nicole Jordan of Tableaux Vivants launched their latex business in May 2009 and have been busy doing custom work for the likes of Kate Lanphear and VPL ever since.
DeSmitten: How did you decide that Latex was going to be the material of choice when starting your own line of clothing?
(sonia) Latex has been a favorite fabric to work with for the past 10 years. The possibilities are endless with how this fabric can be manipulated to drape, structure, and even inflate. When starting this line, I really wanted to make latex the main component due to the fact that not only do I enjoy working with it, but there is a small community that uses this fabric in fashion. I thought we could get more opportunity to work on cool projects due to our exclusivity.
*nicole* i remember us talking about starting something on our own, something to get the ideas and dreams we had out, nurture the creative process, and sonia mentioned how she had worked with latex. it just clicked because growing up in new york as a teenager, i was fascinated with leather, pvc, latex and tech fabrics and had worked with leather for designers previously, so the idea of learning about latex and making things that are almost beyond fashion, but still a part of modern entertainment culture, it still excites me.
DeSmitten: Did you realize that it was going to be such a fashion phenomenon?
(sonia) I sure hoped so!! Never did we think this would happen so fast! It makes me really happy, and I can only thank my friends and colleagues who have spread the word for us to open the doors to great opportunity.
*nicole* honestly, i knew in my heart that it would be successful, because we are intelligent cool women with something beautiful and unique to say. as to what modicum of success i could expect, and when to anticipate seeing it, i had no idea! I am surprised to think of some of the wonderful, crazy, intense things we have had the pleasure of working on, and what is to come. success, phenomenon, these are things that are subjective in a sense, self-defined, but i’m over the moon with where we’ve come with Tableaux Vivants and it feels amazing to know that people are so supportive of what we do. all i can say is, when we were having our first talks on starting this, i always said we would achieve world domination, it was only a matter of when.
DeSmitten: Which collections would you like to see latex dressing infused into?
(sonia) All of them! If I were to select a few I would love to see our latex in Chanel (Oh man can you imagine that!!! Double C’s in latex would look so divine!) Would love to work with Balenciaga, Givenchy, Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh and I think a nice challenge would be to do a drapey Lanvin style in rubber. I was thinking of trying something like that out after this VPL show. I’m SO HAPPY that we got to work with VPL. They have an amazing team- Victoria is a sweetheart and it has been a real pleasure. Latex works really well in their styling. The Bra and panty sets came out so awesome. Another big fave of mine is the latex coat we did for them. It’s all transparent nude latex with accents of transparent pink in the sleeves. It came out really beautiful. Look for it on the runway
*nicole* i feel strongly that latex has the potential to be so many things, but i guess if i had to pick new designers to collab with I’d say stella McCartney, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Sonia Rykiel, Prada/Miu Miu….in no particular order, but to have already worked with VPL is so awesome!! I have looked to victoria’s aesthetic so many times for inspiration, and have mentioned in the past that it would be amazing to work with them, so to have had that opportunity has been incredible. and everything looks glorious!!
DeSmitten: What makes your latex apparel more designer than fetish?
(sonia) There is such a fine line between what makes something ‘designer fashion’ rather than ’fetish’. Overall, I believe it is all about the styling. Our intent was to have pieces that can easily be mixed in with other designers and fabrications. Within that, there comes the magic of creating a look that can become any type of genre in fashion. But alas, fashion can be a fetish as well, no?
I guess the one ‘look’ we probably wouldn’t do well on is ‘casual’. Yeah, going to the grocery store in latex garb might be too fab for casual.
*nicole* well, fetish apparel tends to be directed purely at the base desires of the human spirit- ie. sex,lust, etc. whereas fashion is more subtle in that it creates a fantasy. while it may bring about a sense of the wearer’s sexuality and make them an object of desire, it ultimately delves a little deeper into one’s subconscious. it’s not as overt and to the point, so if you were to go on a date with fashion, it’s going to wine and dine you, while fetish may meet you at a no-tell motel and if you’re lucky give you cab money afterwards.
DeSmitten: What is your favorite piece of latex clothing to wear?
(sonia) I think the pieces I wear the most are the leggings and skirts cuz they are good staples to mix in with my other pieces that aren’t latex. I also really love the cape.
*nicole* i like wearing the leggings, because i can either glam them up or wear them with my metal t-shirts and feel like the coolest person alive , but also i enjoy the bras peaking from out of a button-down shirt (business on top, party underneath) and our party dresses are just really fun to wear…
DeSmitten: What is the most exciting custom work you have done thus far?
(sonia) My favorite custom piece so far was working with Kate Lanphear on creating a Burberry trench for Lane Crawford’s Heritage gig. We had a lot of fun. Kate is a really lovely lady.
*nicole* there’s been so many, at this point i couldn’t pick a one….i’ve really felt a sense of pride in each piece we’ve made, and i feel really inspired to be doing this.
DeSmitten: In your bio you say “… work with the revolutionary artist who wants to challenge the world’s perceptions”… who would be your dream person to dress in TV?
(sonia) There are quite a few dream people that we would love to dress…It is very possible that these dreams may come true very soon
*nicole* I’m intrigued with the bevy of pop music beauties such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, their sense of fun and unapologetic views on fashion are very inspiring….but i guess my fantasy client, the wild card kind of client, the one who I’d freak out if they contacted us….it would be prince, because i think that he is a visionary that would just be mind blowing to work with. meeting him, my brain would burst into a fireball and i would melt into a frothy ice cream puddle on the floor. it might be terrifying to see, actually now thinking about it, and dreams are meant to be fantasy and not necessarily become reality, but a lot of things i never expected to happen have come to fruition, so let’s see what happens!
Nicole and Sonia invited me to the VPL show to see their pieces in action on the runway. Using traditional VPL color blocking patterns they constructed Latex pieces for the lingerie finale, which stole the show. From an amazingly beautiful color blocked trench to the perfect high-waisted/long bra pairing of the season… here are the Latex looks from the lovely ladies of Tableaux Vivants…
(front view runway shots via style.com)
(Sonia & Nicole backstage at VPL)