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Thursday 08 December 2011
Words Spindle

Images Courtesy of CREATE Studios/Kevin Mason, Louie Banks + Atsuko Kudo
Styling:  Heather Falconer

The average amount of time someone spends reading a page in a magazine is five seconds, you may see in any high fashion magazine, especially ours, beautifully cut and designed latex, the kind you have never seen before. In the five seconds your eyes gloss over you may not realise the designer’s name, but you should. Her name is Atsuko Kudo, and I can confidently say she is single handily changing the view of latex upon the world.

Lady Gaga, in well practically every latex garment she has worn including the iconic Victorian red dress whilst meeting the queen and the ballet dress in the latest, yet bazaar video? Atsuko Kudo. J-Lo in the new Loreal advert? Atsuko Kudo, even the latex pieces in Thierry Mugler’s catwalk shows all Atsuko Kudo. She is bubbling under the surface of the entire fashion industry proving just how well a girl can do with a roll of latex and a pot of glue.

Thankfully Atsuko kindly put down the glue to speak to me about her amazing brand, about dressing the celebrities and her discovery of latex, not to mention headlining the V&A exhibition on ball gowns opening next year, latex truly is the new black….

Can you remember your first latex memory? The first time you thought latex is the way forward?
I was around 18-20 years old. I discovered the fun of latex whilst I was studying Fashion in Tokyo. I graduated from college wearing latex while some people wore a Kimono!

Did you always want to work in the fashion industry? 
As a teenager, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But I was interested in SEX and the SEX industry (As young person). I got into a fashion college purely by chance.

What was the first Atsuko Kudo garment? 
I showed over 30 pieces of my first collection in a nightclub called GOLD in Tokyo. Old friends say I have never changed my style from then, but at the time I didn’t know how to make a latex garment so I made everything in normal fabrics. Though the very first Atsuko Kudo garment I made, was a hand painted Chongsam dress for Simon Hoare. Who is now my husband and business partner.

What is it about Latex that inspires you?
Latex empowers women. When you wear latex you feel special like a super woman. And good latex will get you attention in the right way.

Are there any other fabrics that get you excited like latex does?
Latex is special, a shiny natural fabric. It’s nice to touch like a second skin. Latex gives women’s body magic too. When it is cut well and used in the correct gauge. It’s like the ultimate shape wear that anyone can have. It is like a second skin so I feel like a doctor not a designer sometimes!

My own personal problem with latex is that after a while it rips. Have I been buying the wrong kind of latex or does latex have limited longevity? 
Latex is new fabric to almost everyone on this planet. We learn about other fabrics as part of growing up, but not latex.  As with other fabrics, you have to treat and look after the latex in the right way. If you follow the instructions it will last for long time. Also latex garments can be fixed. Do come to see us if you have any problems so we can help you.

One of the first things many people think of with Latex is sex and fetish wear, yet you have managed to change sex into sexy and fetish wear into desirable clothing. Have you found it hard to break through the preconceptions associated with Latex wear? 
Yes. But I like a challenge. England was the best place to start Atsuko Kudo. People here are very open minded and very innovative. We are delighted to have been asked to participate in next spring’s major fashion exhibition at London’s iconic V&A Museum. I know this wouldn’t have happen to some countries. I think this reflects how open minded people are here.

Who would you say is the ideal Atsuko Kudo woman? 
I am designing clothing for everyone who wants to feel feminine, beautiful and strong. I believe you can achieve all of that without looking hard core. It’s all about what’s in your mind. We are working hard to make our clothing to be glamorous, functional, affordable and for all shapes + sizes + age of woman! We are lucky to have dressed so many women who are special. We have so many ladies who tell us that they have a strong emotional reaction with this feeling. We recently had a client who was in tears because of how she felt about the difference it made to her self perception.

What has been your greatest moment in your career so far? 
We were so thrilled to see the Queen smiling when she met Lady Gaga wearing our Red latex Victorian/Elizabethan queen outfit.

Yes as Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce, well the list goes on with the celebrities that have desired to wear your clothing. What do you think keeps them coming back to Atsuko Kudo? 
I guess shinny latex makes pop stars feel like a super woman too? We all want to feel and look sexy and special.

Picture it you’re on a desert island made of latex! You can bring one CD, one book, a piece of artwork and your most treasured fashion possession! What would they be? 
Fine Scissors, some Glue and Thinner, nothing else!

Could you see a menswear collection in the future?
We do some menswear but only available in our London store. Just haven’t had the time to shoot them.

What’s next for Atsuko Kudo?
Many more latex pieces for so many glamorous and sexy people – so that’s very inspiring.