Kate Moss in Atsuko Kudo. Photography: Steven Klein/Art Partner
Early this month when Kim Kardashian and Rita Ora showed up at the same London party wearing similar pale pink latex dresses, we were sure that a) some stylist lost her head and b) the second-skin pieces could be the work of only one woman. When people who want to feel sexy need some couture latex in their lives, they turn to London-based designer Atsuko Kudo. She and her husband, Simon Hoare, run the independent label out in the Holloway district (and have a healthy online business as well). The high quality of their pieces has attracted quite a celebrity following. Remember Gaga’s red latex dress that she wore to meet the Queen? Or Miley’s infamous foam finger dance at the MTV Awards? Those were all the work of Atsuko. We spoke to the designer about her style ethos, craziest celebrity requests, and how to properly wear the fabric.
Yahoo Style: How did this label come to be?
Atsuko Kudo: I was still in Japan [where I was born and grew up]. I discovered latex when while studying fashion in Tokyo when we had to do shop research as a project. I chose to go around the sex shops. I loved the super glossy look and second skin quality of the material. I wore the clothes out to parties. I fell in love with latex because I felt it empowered me. Then I thought latex should be for every woman. I wanted to learn about corsets and period costumes, also I was into the night club scene so that’s what made me want to move to London. After I finished the Theatre Costume course in London, I met Simon Hoare who is my husband and co-director. It was my lucky moment. He is truly amazing, and Atsuko Kudo is not same without him…so here we are.
YS: Are there any tricks to wearing latex?
AK: Yes, you have to take your time with it. You cannot rush it. Latex might not be the most comfortable fabric in the world, but it’s a delicate fabric. It should be compared to chiffon not leather. It will tear if you don’t handle it properly. Latex is for your pleasure. It is a fetish fabric so in that sense it’s like high heels and corsets. You have to commit some time and energy to it…and enjoy it.
From left: Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, and Miley Cyrus in Atsuko Kudo. Getty
YS: What is the best way to put on a Latex piece?
AK: For skin tight latex garments such as leggings, stockings, cat suits, etc. you do need to use talc or lube on the inside of the garment to help fit them correctly on the body. It also helps to avoid damage. Sometimes if a skirt or dress is quite tight it is also advisable to use a little to help ease it into place. We usually recommend lube over talc for dressing.
YS: In your opinion, does Latex look good on everyone?
AK: Yes, it definitely can look good on everyone, but the key is getting the correct fit. Poorly fitting latex is not good. Latex is like a very shiny second skin. If it is cut correctly, it works like support-wear. When we get orders we always look at the measurements and try to think what will be the best fit for each person. I often imagine myself as a doctor. We want our customers to feel magical, so we take lots of time to try to get the best fit. There is so much fun to be had with our little shiny things!
YS: From Madonna to Kate Moss to Kim Kardashian, you’ve developed a strong celebrity following. How did this come to be?
AK: I guess what we offer is very simple, but unique. We just want everyone to feel beautiful, feminine and strong. I believe that latex gives you magic if it is cut well. We are always trying to achieve that. The first big moment in fashion for us was when Steven Meisel shot Eva Mendes in AK latex for Italian Vogue. It was so sexy and just amazed us. I think maybe a few people saw how sexy that was and then they got in touch.
Atsuko Kudo. Courtesy of Atsuko Kudo
YS: What has been your most unexpected celebrity moment thus far?
AK: We are very thrilled to have the opportunity to work with all of these amazing artists and everyone that we work with has been so special to us, but if I have to choose one crazy moment it has to be when Lady Gaga wore AK to meet the Queen. It was magical. I could not believe what I was seeing!
YS: Kim in particular is a very big fan. What is it like working with her? How does that collaboration go?
AK: It’s nice that she found us. We’re happy to see Kim celebrate her famous curves with our latex! And also she is wearing it as daywear, which is interesting! She is very calm and very clear about what she wants. She is actually quite a minimalist. She does not go for crazy or over the top designs.
YS: Does Kanye ever offer his input since he is very involved in what she wears?
AK: We heard feedback that Kanye loves Kim in our latex, which we are so thrilled about. And I have seen he has his hand on Kim’s bottom quite a lot when she wears our latex, so that’s nice!
YS: Latex is often considered a fetishized material. What is your advice for people who want to wear it as fashion?
AK: It is not a practical fabric. Its main purpose is pleasure—we are dressing you for pleasure. And what could be more fashionable than pleasure! So please enjoy it.