It would be fair to say that Rotterdam fetish model Rachael V made a big impression at this year’s Fetish Evolution Weekend in Essen.
The 24-year-old had been slated to assume one of the event’s co-hosting roles after Amsterdam’s Déna Massque had to pull out because of study commitments.
However, when the promoters heard Rachael singing at one of their pre-weekend gatherings, schedules were quickly shuffled around and she found herself with singing spots at Saturday’s FE Dinner and Sunday’s Ball.
She also volunteered to interpret when I interviewed Netherlands-based Italian designer Barbara Sandri for our cover story on Ardita FFashion. From watching her perform, and from our conversations around that interview, I concluded that Rachael herself was a woman of no small talent.
So Ms V became my second interview subject of the day, and now shares our September cover story honours as Ardita model and interviewee in her own right.
She tells me she as a child she had always had “a thing for dressing up and being the little princess”, loving curvy figures and idolising Barbie. And that, aged 12 or 13, when she was bored in class, she would always draw shoes.
“I didn’t know it then but I always designed fetish heels. So the interest has always been there but I never knew there was a scene.”
Three years ago a new boyfriend took her to her first fetish party, inspiring her to buy a corset which she later wore to school. And when she visited fetish shop Laced-Up in Utrecht, the shop owner asked her if she had ever done any modelling.
Corseted or not, Rachael V has the exotic looks that tend to inspire that kind of question: looks inherited from a Chinese great grandfather on her mother’s side, a mother who hails from the former Dutch colony of Suriname in South America, and a Dutch father.
But her answer was no, she’d never modelled. She had never aspired to it because she didn’t have fashion sizes and hadn’t even realised fetish modelling existed. But the encounter led to her first photo shoot for the shop in autumn 2008, and a second in 2009.
Being a thoughtful type who likes to evaluate situations thoroughly and then plan carefully, she spent the rest of 2009 wondering whether to pursue fetish modelling, either as a hobby or a career, before deciding in January 2010 to give it her best shot. She joined Model Mayhem and started building a portfolio.
She soon landed the flyer shoot for one of Dutch designer Brigitte More’s Dominatrix parties, which persuaded her that the modelling thing might actually go somewhere. “And,” she says, “I’ve been enjoying the ride ever since.”
Her fetish modelling has led to a close association with Brigitte and she says she’s eternally grateful for all the help and support the designer has given her. She loves Ardita’s work too, of course, and is also a big fan of Amsterdam label Scotch & Pepper.
Rachael is not averse to a bit of ‘real fetish’ either. She enjoyed walking around in a serious DeMask outfit with torpedo tits and hood
But she’s not averse to a bit of “real fetish” either. The week before we talked, she had enjoyed walking around in a serious DeMask outfit, complete with torpedo tits and hood, to celebrate an exhibition of Gernot’s art in Amsterdam.
“For me it’s very important that in my photos I never sell sex,” she says “What I do is fetish and fetish is by default something sexual. But it’s not blatant like nudity. When you’re wearing latex it’s skin-tight — its a second skin so you can see everything but you can’t see anything, and that’s what I love about it.
“But I do like the couture side of things. I saw Très Bonjour’s stuff for the first time at Fetish Evolution and I am completely in love with all of it! I also love Vex, HMSlatex, Hedony… there are many designers I would still love to work with.”
She also professes to love catsuits and has even grown to like hoods — something she was originally not too fond of. “It is fun to become objectified, I do like it, but I have slight claustrophobia so when I’m wearing a full face hood I have to surpass that point and then I’m good.
“I also like doing bondage, but I always do it fully clothed, as in ‘private parts private’. I also love leather — the feel of it, the smell of it — and I’m a big high heels fan. I followed Déna’s example, and have all my high heels in a bookcase in the middle of my living room!”
She mentions that her heels collection includes a pair of ankle-height ballet boots that she can “walk a few metres in” despite not being ballet-trained.
Our chat turns to the use of said footwear in Beyoncé’s Green Light video, and in turn, to which pop divas are embracing fetish authentically and which are not..
“Gaga must be a genuine perv,” says Rachael, “otherwise she couldn’t pull it off that well, I think. Something like that has to come from within. But when you look at Katy Perry, she’s wearing latex dresses but she doesn’t come across as a fetishist.
‘Gaga must be a genuine perv, otherwise she couldn’t pull it off that well, I think. Something like that has to come from within’
“I really like her songs, I think she’s a beautiful woman and I love her figure, but I think latex is the Katy Perry brand, not Katy Perry herself. Whereas Gaga is her brand.”
This brings us rather neatly to Rachael’s own musical ambitions. Her growing involvement in fetish modelling was, she says, accompanied by a feeling that she wanted to do more with performance.
She had assisted other people in fetish shows but found that this wasn’t really the kind of performing she wanted to do, any more than she wanted to do strip or burlesque or SM shows.
Singing, however, had been a passion of hers since the age of three. She always took music at school, she sung in rock bands as a teenager and she still sings in her music teacher’s choir today.
“Three or four years ago I was listening to people like Norah Jones and Katie Melua and I realised that jazz was what I loved to sing most. It’s so calm, so close to yourself and still so powerful — that’s what I love about jazz.
“I was thinking, what makes me tick? Well, singing. And what makes it different? I sing jazz songs. And so, singing sexy songs in latex evening gowns is what I want to do, what I want to market. And I’m having more dresses designed as we speak!”
Rachael’s first solo performance as a latex-clad jazz chanteuse à la Jessica Rabbit was in February at Kinky Salon in Amsterdam. It was soon followed by a gig at the same city’s big Wasteland party and then by her spots at the FE Dinner and Ball.
Since Easter she has focused chiefly on singing gigs and on her studies (she’s a fulltime student reading English for a university degree). She appeared at Fetish Cabaret in May — “a fantastic venue for the jazzy songs I prefer to sing” — and performed a “very exciting” Lady Gaga tribute at Dominatrix in June.
Coming up soon (on September 10) is what she promised will be a “completely different performance” at Kinky Salon, where, she hopes “Fiona Apple will be enjoyed and appreciated by my audience as much as Jessica Rabbit is”.
But, I wonder, does she see singing jazz numbers in a latex ball gown as something only likely to appeal to fetish audiences, or does she feel she can take it into the mainstream?
“Some people like the idea of a singer in latex, but don’t like the idea of jazz — until they see the performance,” she observes. “I love the old ’50s glamour. Not in the burlesque sense, but in those days singers could sing — it was all about the glamour combined with actual musical talent.
“That is something I would like to bring back. I know I’m a good singer with a good voice [and take it from this old muso and ex-music journalist — that’s really true]. I want to bring a bit of the ’50s glamour back to modern days, with the latex and with the fetishism, because I am also a latex fetishist and a high heel fetishist.”
Still though, she confesses to feeling ambiguous about all the fetish now appearing in the mainstream.
“On the one hand my straight friends more readily accept the things I do. On the other hand I love the taboo side of things, and the mix of the fetish and BDSM scene together is sort of underground.
“It‘s great that you can walk around and be yourself all day at Fetish Evolution, but there is still a sense of sin. I love that sense of sin and we should definitely keep that in the scene! ”
‘You can be yourself all day at Fetish Evolution, but there is still a sense of sin. I love that sense of sin and we should keep that in the scene’