‘Latex is becoming more fashionable now – as well as still being worn for fetish’
Former De Montfort University student Catriona’s love for all things skin-tight and shiny has led to her setting up a business selling latex designs for fashion and fetish. ‘I’m not really a traditional lacy, satin sort of person,’ she tells Gemma Peplow…
It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and inside this detached house in a quiet residential street in an unremarkable south Leicestershire village, there are photos of loved ones everywhere, a freshly-mopped kitchen floor and clothes scattered in the bedroom. So far, so normal. But step inside Catriona’s office and you’ll find latex. Lots and lots of latex. Boxes of latex corsets, leggings and dresses, and the tools with which to make them.
Catriona is a designer who creates latex items of clothing for both fashion and fetish, for those who simply like to dress up for nights out, as well as those with kinkier tastes. She makes everything from rubber dresses and skirts to catsuits with crotch zips and fitted hoods.
The 29-year-old’s work recently came to the fore thanks to glamour model and dominatrix-turned-reality star Harry Amelia Martin, who wore her designs in the Big Brother house during her stint as a contestant in this year’s series.
So, curiosity getting the better of me, I got in touch to see if I could pay her a visit, to find out what makes a nice girl from a quiet Leicestershire village set up a business making fetish-wear. “Well, it’s becoming more fashionable now, as well as for fetish,” she says. “And I think 50 Shades of Grey helped as well. I’ve not actually watched the film, but I think it’s got people who are, let’s say, maybe more vanilla, thinking about being more kinky.”
Catriona’s love for all things skin-tight and shiny started at De Montfort University, where she studied contour fashion.
Initially, she says, she felt a bit lost. Pretty lace and frouffy frills were not her thing.
After floating through her first year, concentrating more on her part-time job as a dancer than her studies, and having to repeat part of it, she was involved in an accident that would change her life.
On the day she was due to hand in her final piece of work for that year, Catriona was hit by a car as she was walking in Fosse Road South. She was left with broken knees, broken bones in her right leg and a fractured pelvis.
Now, seven years and several operations and skin grafts later, she still has difficulty walking and is left with a sizable concave scar on her right shin. But back then, after four months in hospital, one month in rehabilitation, she was convinced she could leap straight back into her university course. “It happened at the end of term and I had months before I went back to uni, so I thought it would be okay,” she says. “I had no idea how serious it was at first.
“I think I came out of rehab on the Friday and uni was starting the following week. I still couldn’t walk that well and was using a wheelchair a lot, but I was quite stubborn and told myself it would be fine.
“It was hard work, physically and mentally, but uni kept me busy, kept me sane. If I had a day off, I’d feel depressed. It was more having the routine than the actual course, but it helped.”
Eventually, Catriona realised she couldn’t keep up, and decided to defer a year, setting up a sideline business making dancewear for girls she knew in the industry to earn a bit of cash while she was off.
She went back to the same lectures and tutorials, different classmates. One of them was a mature student who was into latex.
“He brought in this latex outfit he’d made, I think it was a basque or a leotard, but it just looked so… it was all shiny and I was just like, “Oh wow. That is so cool”.
“I’m not really traditional lacy, satin sort of person. That was boring to me, I didn’t have any passion for it, but this was amazing. Some of the girls were sniggering, but I just wanted to have a go myself.”
So she did.
Catriona started to build up a portfolio, which in turn led to some of her creations being shown on catwalks at fetish shows and events. Her final collection for uni included latex. She had found her niche.
After leaving De Montfort with her degree, full-time work was out of the question due to her disabilities. She did bits and bobs, office work here and there, all while making the occasional latex item and keeping up-to-date with the fetish scene.
She also booked some jobs as a disabled model, but decided she preferred to be behind the scenes, designing.
She built the business slowly, receiving a grant from The Prince’s Trust in 2011, maybe 2012, she says. Compensation for her accident also came through last year, affording her more time to spend working on and building up the brand.
So now, here she is, making rubber catsuits and masks and corsets from her home.
What I really want to know, what people reading this will want to know, I’m sure, is where Catriona stands on latex herself? She’s wearing a pretty floral blouse and leggings for the interview, but is it all rubber and zips and chains and whips behind closed doors?
“Well, I’ll go out in it. I like it because it’s shiny. Sometimes, I feel like I look like a boiled sweet, depending on the colour. How does it feel? I don’t get too warm, but other people who aren’t used to it can get hot and sweaty. The only time I’ve been really sweaty is at a show when I was out handing out flyers and I was rushing, so I was a bit flustered. Normally, no.
“When I go out, I wear my leg brace and use crutches. On leggings, the brace will slide down, but latex has more of a grip, so it’s actually easier for me.”
She’s proud, she says, that her work inspires others with disabilities, makes others feel more confident.
“I’ve had people e-mail me to say they’re disabled as well and I’ve helped them realise they can wear latex if they want, be different if they want. It’s opened them up to different possibilities. It’s really nice to know you’ve helped someone like that.”
And if she can do that by wearing latex herself, showing off her own body, then why not?
“Plus, I’m not very ladylike,” she adds, talking about why she likes to wear it. “I like lolling around, and you can’t do that in a skirt. I like catsuits.”
Is it sexual? Catriona says no, not really. It’s the fashion element, the design element, that she respects.
“I didn’t think I had a fetish for it,” she says. “Most of the time it’s more about fashion for me.
“There are sometimes when it feels more fetishy… when I’ve gone to fetish events and been really excited by the outfits I’ve seen. Sometimes I’ll think something looks amazing, and it’s slightly more fetishy and sexualised. It’s hard to explain… I get really happy with things that fit properly and, you know, when you have a really smooth surface, like black marble, and it looks nice, feels nice? I used to make more lingerie-type pieces and someone who had a fetish said they liked the pieces like catsuits, that were more covered up, more material. Now, I can see what they meant.”
It’s not, she says, a feature in her own bedroom.
Recently married, her husband has no penchant for rubber, although, she says, “he’s got no issue with me liking it”.
She laughs. “It’s a shame, because if he did have a latex fetish, the amount I’ve got, it would be super easy.”
Donning a latex outfit is to Catriona what a cocktail dress is to most women.
“I don’t normally wear it at home, no,” she says. “I don’t like putting it on unless I’ve done my hair and make-up, all of that.”
Basically, the love of latex, for Catriona, is about the craftmanship, the detail, the look.
Not really wanting to mix business with pleasure, she leaves the kinky stuff to her clients. Who, she says, come from all walks of life. “There’s a dominatrix and adult actress – she does porn – who I met in January. Her name’s Zara DuRose. She’s wonderful.
“I met her at an evening out at a fetish club. Whenever I go out I network as much as possible and if people are wearing latex, I’ll go up with my card and say I’m a latex designer. Afterwards, we found each other on Facebook and we then met at a dominatrix party. Since then, she’s ordered a dress from me which she then wore for the launch party for her website, at a fetish studio in London.
“I went to a German fetish ball recently and I socialised with her and her husband, who are a really nice couple. She had another party for her birthday and ordered a jacket from me.”
Then there’s Harry Amelia, the 22-year-old glamour model and fetish worker from Loughborough who took part in Big Brother because, like, “yolo” (you only live once).
“We’d been friends for a while on Facebook but our paths had never crossed,” says Catriona. “Then, just before Christmas I saw a picture of her with another girl, and they both do adult TV stuff. I decided to contact them and get them to wear my latex.
“It went further with Harry and I made her a dress for a Christmas party, and then more stuff. I trust her. She works hard. People might not like the work she does but she works really hard to support herself and build a career. She wanted an Alice in Wonderland-themed dress, “for a really big shoot,” she said. She had a bunch of other stuff as well, and then there she was, on Big Brother.
“That white dress with the black lines, the one she’s wearing in the pictures, that pattern is well-known, to my brand so I was so, so happy with that. She’s worn something of mine every week for evictions, which is amazing. I’m so grateful to her when I see her.”
The orders haven’t come rolling in since, she says, but the exposure is allowing her to build the brand even more.
“Through her wearing that, I contacted (Big Brother presenter) Emma Willis and asked if I could send something for her.
“Her stylist got back and said she had everything sorted but asked me to keep in touch. It’s allowed me to plant seeds in different areas.”
People are becoming more and more open to latex in the fashion world, says Catriona.
Rita Ora, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Kylie and Nichole Scherzinger have all been seen rubbering up in recent years.
However, it’s not something everyone wants to shout about. “I have people who, like one guy recently, well… I don’t know what he does within the fetish scene, but he lives with his parents and he doesn’t want them to know what he’s doing. I was Skyping him to sort his order out and it was all quite secretive.”
What did he buy?
“Well, stuff for himself, to wear.
“There aren’t many who are secretive like that, though. I did have someone call me up about a month or so ago, withholding his number and wanting to order something but being really secretive. You could tell he didn’t want anyone to know.”
The oddest item she has ever made is a cow-print PVC catsuit – for fashion rather than fetish, she’s quick to point out. “I thought that was quite funny. It was for a shoot in an abattoir.”
Leggings are popular, says Catriona, because they’re “wearable”. Latex lingerie, too. Masks? “Oh yeah, I make them. I made a couple of hoods for someone recently.”
Catriona has been doing it for so long she has almost become desensitised to the weirdness, she says, really having to wrack her brains for “unusual” requests when we probe for salacious details.
“Let me think… If I was totally normal, what would be weird?” she laughs. “Well, I just tend to get on with it as it’s normal to me. I really want to get into the mistress and dominatrix community, because they have fans and ‘subs’ (subordinates) who will pay for items to see them wearing them.
“A lot of dominatrixes don’t have sex with their clients. I’m baffled as to what they get out of it. The people who buy stuff for their mistresses are called ‘pay pigs’. You learn a lot…
“I know more females dominatrixes than men doms. The relationship between a sub and a dom is, well, they’re all different. It would be hard to show a ‘typical’ relationship. What I’ve seen, dominatrixes don’t have loads of slaves, they have a few, and they have to make sure they’re matched. I guess it’s like finding a boyfriend. They have to have that connection, and both want the same thing.”
Catriona’s work has taken her to all sorts of fetish events and websites, where she’s read things we really can’t print here.
“Some things I can’t really understand why anyone would want to do them, but, y’know.
‘Latex is becoming more fashionable now – as well as still being worn for fetish’ – Femdom Lifestyle[fblike]