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CAMEO APPEARANCE: Sarah In Tortureland wears Halterneck waistcoat + Cameo dress (photo: Jason Harry)

Eustratia: determined to do different things with latex

Eustratia is a new UK-based latex label created by Greek designer and model Stacey Black. A familiar face on the Torture Garden catwalk, Stacey spoke to Amber Dennett on the eve of debuting her Dryad collection at TG’s April Ball. Photography: Jason Harry

Amber: Eustratia seems to be doing something different from what’s already on the latex market. What is your vision for it and what are you striving to create?

Stacey: Though latex clothing has gained popularity over the last few years and a lot of brands have been concerned with the more fashionable aspect of it, I felt like a lot of the designs still looked slightly dated and also that a lot of them featured similar style lines.

Through this brand I would like to experiment with new techniques, fusions and silhouettes, proving that latex garments can be just as versatile as fabric garments and that there is no need for them to be confined to the bedroom/fetish club, nor any excuse for them to be limited in style.

I enjoy dramatic pieces that tell a story. I would like to retain as much of this drama as possible while still making wearable garments.

I currently offer mixed ranges of both intricately detailed or extravagant and stylishly simple garments at very accessible prices. I chose this approach in an attempt to make the feel of the collections accessible to customers of varying budgets.

Ultimately, I aim to split the brand into two labels. One for the more elaborate, influence-specific pieces, commissions and couture work, the other for wearable accessible fashion that still communicates my current vision but in a more pragmatic, down-to-earth manner.

A: Can you tell us something about your fashion background?

S: I studied a BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Technology at Manchester Met. and worked as a womenswear designer for Cyberdog for a year. I had been working with latex for about a year-and-a-half when I decided I was ready to set up my own label.

A: What made you decide to take up making latex rather than fabric clothing?

S: Since first seeing latex clothing when I moved to the UK in the summer of 2004, it has fascinated me. I have known how fabric clothing was put together from a very early age as my grandmother worked as a seamstress, and I considered latex clothing a challenging new variable that just had to be conquered.

Apart from that, there is always the underlying fact that I love the feel of it and also, believe it or not, some logic!

‘My final collection for university was a combination of fabric and latex garments and I will eventually expand my brand to create both’

After leaving university with a huge amount of debt and only ten percent more change of finding a job than anyone who hadn’t bothered, it seemed like a better idea to start out doing something I could manage in a small space and without the expensive machinery or outsourcing required for fabric clothing.

Having said that however, my final collection for university last year consisted of a combination of fabric and latex garments and I eventually plan to expand my brand to create both. One of the projects I am planning for the near future is a basics range involving printed tops and t-shirts.

A: Where do you find inspiration for your clothing?

S: A lot of my inspiration comes from images, both mental and physical. I feel kind of bad saying that a lot of it comes from things I see online nowadays. Travelling is always good as well. I always feel inspired when I visit new places and it could be by the most insignificant object or just the feel of a place.

A recurring theme that always seems to lie at the core my work is that of opposites and contradictions. Light and dark, past and future, delicate and deadly…

A: Would you agree that the line between latex fetish and latex fashion is becoming thinner, or are they two separate things for you?

S: Personally, I can’t imagine a world where the two are mutually exclusive.  If we are talking solely with regards to the clothing side of it though, I do believe that traditional fetish clothing has a different focal point to the more fashionable latex items that are currently emerging from every corner.

The first aims mostly to enhance feelings and the second appearance. Credit is due to those who combine the right elements to achieve both.

A: In many ways this has widened the market for latex. Who do you see your latex appealing to?

S: It has indeed. I hope my range of items is wide enough to attract a few different types of customer. Primarily, I see my work appealing to individuals who already posses a certain confidence and love of strong looks.

However, I have tried to include a few softer pieces to help entice those less certain. I offer as many customisation options as possible in order to aid each of my customers in finding their perfect outfit.

I would love to see more people wearing latex, especially in situations you wouldn’t expect it. So far I have made four people their first latex garments so I suppose I’m not doing too badly.

A: What can we expect to see in your fashion show at Torture Garden on April 9?

S: I will be showing the Dryad collection, with the addition if three surprise outfits that have not yet been published.

The show will loosely revolve around the narration of a fantasy forest scene and will involve some ballet. I don’t want to give too much away in advance though, so those interested should come down and see the show!

I’d love to see more people wearing latex. So far I have made four people their first latex garments so I suppose I’m not doing too badly’ 

Thursday, 7 April 2011


Designer Stacey Black:
A view on copying

Copying and plagiarism are inevitable parts of this industry and even more prominent in small scenes such as the fetish fashion one. Of course I feel for people who put their creative energy into something just to see someone else come along and appropriate it without any thought. However, I feel some people make a bigger deal out of it than is due. 

First of all, a lot of the new designers aren’t aware of industry rules regarding such matters. By law you have to make seven changes to a garment that you are “knocking off” before you can distribute it.

On fabric garments this is extremely easy, as it could be something as unnoticeable as stitch size or type. Where latex clothing is concerned, however, it becomes slightly harder for those who are too unimaginative to create their own designs. 

Second, the designer who first makes an already-existing generic garment type or item of a certain silhouette out of latex does not own that garment or silhouette. I believe it is fine for another designer to put their spin on it as long as they create something fresh-looking.

In a lot of cases, it seems the designers’ aversion towards copying stems from fear that they will not have another good idea soon enough to keep ahead of the competition, which is in itself a saddening concept.

Having said that, I strongly believe that copying or even being heavily influenced by the designs of others is not particularly flattering. I don’t understand why someone who has gone through the trouble of starting up their own latex label would be interested in conveying someone else’s vision instead of their own.

Principal contributor links:
Eustratia article

Eustratia can be found on Facebook and also has an Etsy shop (links below).
An extended Q&A by Amber Dennett can be found on her Vague blog.
Photography: Jason Harry
Models: Sarah in Tortureland, Sapphire Black, Biomechanina, Katey Lauren, Anabela Sequeira

Eustratia on Facebook
Eustratia Etsy shop
Amber Dennett’s Vague blog
Photographer: Jason Harry
Model: Sarah In Tortureland
Model: Biomechanina
Model: Sapphire Black
Model: Katey Lauren
Model: Anabela Sequeira
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