Fashion has long fetishized fetish. From Claude Montana’s leather trenches to Marc Jacobs’s shiny rubber, the creative obsession with sexual deviance and perversion appears irrepressible. Azzedine Alaia, Dolce & Gabbana, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, and Vivienne Westwood have all swapped catwalk for fetish shop, offering versions of ‘second skin’ dresses, waist-sliming corsets, subversive military caps, and even fake fur underwear. Running together with Selling Sex and Fashion Fetish SHOWstudio begins a new series of essays, each unpicking items that have come to dominate fashionable fetish. The essays will correspond with the weekly Fashion Fetish releases, exploring the imagery and messages behind each new creative offering. The written works will question what is meant by fetish. Rather than simply taking on items like red-lips, corsets, stilettos, stockings or whips as ‘fetish’, no questions asked, these essays will address the contexts of these fetishes, explaining and evaluating why these items are seen as desirous or sexual.
The first essay in this series looks at the lasting appeal of red lipstick - addressing the perceived sexual codes of the female pout. Inspired by the images of Karlie Kloss in Ruth Hogben's Love Me, the piece challenges the social norms and cultural contexts that have turned the female mouth into an ever-fashionable fetish item, explaining the psychological and historical factors that have constructed its popular allure. Read it here.