Once strictly the realm of fetish, designer Sonia Agostino has been a leader in transforming latex into a textile viewed as still retaining its naughty edge, yes, but also one embraced by the mainstream fashion world.
A favorite among fashion editors, no doubt you’ve also spotted Agostino’s Tableaux Vivants (French for “living pictures”) designs on heavy-hitting entertainers including Beyoncé, Madonna, Kylie Jenner and most recently Bronx rapper Maliibu Miitch.
For spring 2018, Agostino tapped model Jeana Turner to showcase her collection. Titled “Creatures,” it features prints by Florabundia and a collaboration with ISLYNYC, an acrylic jewelry label.
This past weekend (April 20, 2018), Tableaux Vivants designs were displayed in a live installation sponsored by Glassbook magazine at Brooklyn’s Monaliza Studios. Check out video for the event here.
Check out our email exchange with Agostino below where she details her history as well as the evolution of latex in fashion.
Snobette: What was your path into designing latex garments?
Agostino: “I first started working with latex in the late ’90s. I worked for The Baroness. At the time I knew very little about the fetish industry; working with her opened a whole new world to me.
“Although I remained more in the fashion arena, I was aware latex was the fabric of the fetish and BDSM world where it’s still huge, but that was the only place it seemed to fit at the time. Sure, Vivienne Westwood was doing it in the ‘7os, but it was still underground. In the late ’90s through the early ’00s, latex was featured in magazines like Marquis and Skin II magazine. It was all beautifully done, but fetish inspired, nonetheless.”
Snobette: How did Tableaux Vivants come about?
Agostino: “May 2009 is when I started the brand. I wanted to define my ‘hobby’ and give it a name. It quickly gained momentum in fashion. I think due in part to it being the right time and place. Lady Gaga was wearing latex. She was and still is all the rage. Latex was also starting to trickle into the avant garde fashion arena and show up in fashion magazines. Being a New York latex designer was an advantage, as the majority of latex designers were in Europe at the time.
“Additionally, I have a lot to offer in latex. My love for the material did not come from a fetish background. I am a fashion designer with pattern making education and I wanted to utilize those skills to create garments that otherwise you would expect to see in everyday life except they are latex, so there’s an ‘extra’ appeal.
“All of my latex comes from the United Kingdom and I work with a special supplier for my adhesive. So it’s expensive, but I’m proud to be a part of the latex movement.Viva la latex!”
See images of Tableaux Vivants spring 2018 “Creatures” collection below. Offerings are available for purchase on tableauxvivants.com