An interest in latex was a natural progression for Marie Tomeoki, a contemporary artist who incorporates colourful, multi-dimensional mediums (acrylic, collage, textiles, paper and more) into her work.
Growing up in Japan with a family who trained in the art of the professional tea ceremony and flower arranging (both deeply respected traditions in Japanese culture) was an early influence on Marie’s creativity.
But, initially trained as a professional ballet dancer, Marie also suffered depression and eating disorders in her youth, and her art mirrors her recovery, progressing from the dark monotones of her early work to her more colourful, saturated later style.
Introduced to latex by her partner Gary, Marie was drawn by the sensuality and fit of the material, and the appeal of taking on a different persona while dressing up. The stereotyping she encountered around mental health issues led her to question the stigma attached to latex, especially the perceived association with hardcore fetish and BDSM.
“Latex is such a multi-dimensional material,” she observes. “Depending on the cut of the garment, it can be sexual and/or high fashion. With parallels to art, latex unites communities, embracing self-expression. This is what makes both scenes so exciting.’
Having purchased several items of latex couture from different designers, each with varying levels of quality, smell, fit and customer experience, Marie decided to start posting reviews on YouTube, with a view to promoting latex clothing as being more socially acceptable than simply a niche fashion (see link on right).
It was through one of these videos that Marie and Ardita FF designer Barbara Sandri, creator of amazing latex appliqué garments, came into contact. Following an exchange of messages the two women became friends and a collaboration was born.
If you saw our cover story on Ardita in the September 2011 edition of The Fetishistas (see link on right), you may recall that Barbara started as a fashion school student in Italy 17 years ago, working with regular fabrics.
The crisscross design would reflect the traditional kimono dressing convention of crossing left over right, as well as preserving modesty
However, there came a point in her career where she began looking for a new challenge. Her couture latex fashion label Ardita FF — and her signature appliqué style — grew from the gift of a photoshoot with Marquis magazine given to her by husband Massimo (a talented photographer himself, shooting under the name Ardi Foto).
It seems that the Almere-based designer and the Toronto-based artist quickly found common ground in their respective approaches to their work.
Barbara’s distinctive Arabesque appliqué involves intense decorative detailing achieved with raised patterns and textures. Similarly, Marie’s artwork often features multi-layered paper cut-outs or textiles, fused with high gloss-acrylic. Both women’s creations involve processes of painstakingly cutting materials by hand
After much discussion, Barbara decided to design a couture outfit with Asian influences for Marie to wear to her first solo art exhibition, which inspired Marie to organise her first gallery show.
Given that the kind of people who attend art openings are not usually too familiar with latex clothing, Barbara suggested breaking the norm and presenting the artist in a three-piece suit rather than the customary dress.
Design ideas went back and forth between the two collaborators, who eventually settled on a combination of peacock with silver and transparent black. The finished garment would need to preserve the wearer’s modesty and, in its crisscross style, reflect the traditional kimono dressing convention of crossing left side over right.
The finished creation was delivered to Marie in Toronto in person by Barbara and Massimo, who were on the return leg of a trip they had made to LA for a photo shoot.
It was their first face-to-face meeting, but the two couples hit it off immediately, and they soon concocted an idea for a photo shoot to mark the occasion. Massimo would photograph Marie in the Ardita latex dress from above, surrounded by her artwork. In the event, even Marie’s dog decided to get in on the act!
Happily, the April opening of Marie’s exhibition Being — at Bizune Event Gallery in downtown Toronto — was declared a great success, attracting an audience of more than 120 including media representatives and key figures such as the Japanese Consulate General. Several art pieces were sold and commissions gained.
Barbara’s latex creation was well received, causing added fascination and adding another dimension to the show.
“It was interesting to watch people’s expressions; latex was clearly something they had never seen before,” said Marie, who found herself receiving unexpected hugs, tactile advances and subtle glances aplenty.
Having formed a lasting friendship, Marie was delighted to learn that the skirt Barbara designed for her to wear has been named The Tomeoki, and has been added to the styles currently available from Ardita.
You can see more of Marie’s art, as well as photos from her exhibition, on her website (see links on right). Marie is open to more creative collaborations in art, design and latex. She hopes to continue reviewing latex fashion, so feel free to get in touch.
Marie is delighted the skirt Barbara designed for her has been named The Tomeoki, and has been added to the styles available from Ardita