Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Interview with Eustratia

I'm currently helping cut out latex for the show at the weekend (or actually getting more in the way at this moment in time). 4 days to go and still there is plently left to be made. I feel very privileged to of had an insight into seeing some parts of this collection come together and to hear about the ideas and concepts behind them. I often read interviews with designers and feel disappointed with the content, somewhere they seem to miss out the most exciting parts of fashion the inspiration and the story behind everything. This collection has a theme and a magical story too. She managed to squeeze in my interview in right in the middle of this frantic rush and here's what the lady behind Eustratia had to say...

1. Eustratia is a new company that so far seems to be creating something different to what is already in the latex market. What can you tell us about the vision you have for it and what you strive to create?

Eustratia strives to deliver innovative, attractive designs that convey a strong look and enhance the wearer’s appearance and attitude. 

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 there is no need for them to be confined to the bedroom/fetish club, nor 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.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your fashion background?

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.

3.What made you decide to take up making latex rather than fabric clothing?

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! After leaving university with a huge amount of dept and only 10% 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 the projects I am planning for the near future is a basics range involving printed tops and t-shirts.

4. Where do you find inspiration for your clothing?

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. Traveling 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 lay at the core my work is that of opposites and contradictions. Light and dark, past and future, delicate and deadly…

5. There are a lot of new latex labels emerging at the moment and there are concerns from some labels that coping takes place, what are your thoughts on this?

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 7 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 too unimaginative to create their own designs.
 Secondly, 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 an other 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. Someone who doesn’t posses a vision and feel the perpetual need to communicate it through their clothing shouldn’t really be a designer, especially not one with their own, independent label. A job in highstreet fashion would give them a much better opportunity to exercise  such skills and be praised for them.

 A related quote I found interesting is this:
 “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination…Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.
Authenicity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thivery-celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from-It’s where you take them to.””

 6. If you could have anyone in the world to wear your latex dead or alive who would it be?

Queen Elizabeth the first. I wouldn’t have to tone anything down for her to wear it!

7. Who is your current favorite label or designer?

My favourite designer is currently Rick Owens, I love his silhouettes! If we are talking about latex though probably Kariwanz, they make some crazy stuff!

8. The line between latex fetish and latex fashion is becoming increasingly thinner, do you agree with this or are they two separate things?
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 enchance feelings and the second appearance.
Credit is due to those who combine the right elements to achieve both.
9. In many ways this has widened the market for latex. Who do you see your latex appealing to? 
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 customization 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 4 people their first latex garment so I suppose I’m not doing too badly.
10. As a model yourself you have styled many shoots and all of the Eustratia shoots, can you give us any styling tips?
1. Never neglect the shoes. I often see shoots that could have looked great if the model was wearing the right footwear but actually ended up mediocre. If you can’t afford to buy the right ones for the shoot you can change the appearance of existing ones by adding spats, legwear or strips of fabric. After you have worn them a few times you can also consider spaying, cutting, folding or studding them to achieve a different look.
2.  Styling garments don’t need to be well made to work for your image. I often put an outfit together and think “that would be prefect if only I had…–insert random non existent item here-“. If you need to cover a bit of flesh or break up  a big patch of colour you can easily use strips of fabric, chains, pins and even fancy paper.
3. Accessories! I strongly believe in wearing at least two noteworthy accessories per shoot. Whoever told you that they detract from the outfit or your beauty was just envious of your oversized bow or deer skull ring. Obviously everything can be overdone so take care to create a delicate balance where the accessories become a second layer of interest to be absorbed after the overall feel of the image.
11. Do you do custom orders and how would a customer go about getting their creation made?

Of course I do custom orders. I have only had people come to me with very loose ideas so far so most of the creative input was my own but I am happy to create items based on a theme, character, image or just an idea. All someone would have to do is email me at enquiries@eustratia.co.uk to discuss.

12. What’s the most outrageous outfit you have ever created?
I don’t actually think I’ve created something that could be classed as outrageous for a good few years now. This needs to be rectified soon. While I was at college I produced a range of vacuum formed corsets in black and clear plastic. My favourite one fastened at the sides with butterfly bolts. I teamed it up with a floor length ball gown encircled in foam hoops and a gas mask turned into a handbag by adding a washing machine tube as a handle.
13. What response have you had from your latex so far?
I’m quite pleased with the response I’ve had so far. Particularly as there has been interest in some of the more elaborate items in my collection.
Surprisingly I’ve had a couple of offers for magazine features recently, which I wasn’t expecting so soon. I’m also pleased to be doing my debut show at TG. There are a couple of other shows lined up for the following months as well as some interesting collaborations.
14. Your collection is being show at the next TG what can we expect from this?
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!
15. Where can we purchase your fabulous latex?
I have both an etsy and bigcartel store online. For custom orders/commissions I can be contacted directly via the email stated above.

Models- Biomechanina & Sapphire Black. 
Photographer- Jason Harry
Styling, MUA, Hair- Biomechanina 

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