As the label reveals its latest mini collection, titled Skin Tight Leather, designer Ruby Mariani tells AnOther why she’s committed to the codes of fetish wear
“Sex and fetish garments have now become a part of mainstream fashion, and to stop it from becoming benign, I feel it’s necessary to be more committed to being extreme,” explains Ruby Mariani of R&M Leathers. “Comfort and practicality can be found elsewhere – that’s not what I am about.” The London-based made-to-order brand, which Mariani founded in order to pay homage to the craft of fetish wear, draws inspiration from her personal collection of old kink magazines, alongside the work of fetish designer and photographer, John Sutcliffe. “It’s my way of contributing [to the kink community] by putting my pieces in this context, in print,” she says.
R&M Leathers can be recognised by its tightly-laced bralettes and knickers, studded harnesses, buckled halter necks and heavy chain bikinis, which look partly Alaïa and Mugler-esque and partly like the clothing you might have seen on British bikers and metalheads in the 1970s. For the label’s latest mini collection, titled Skin Tight Leather Mariani looked at airbrush and fantasy art, including pieces by Hajime Sorayama and Frank Frazetta. “I have always preferred the garments that Sorayama or Frazetta adorn their drawings in, rather than the ones that are available in the real world,” she says. “The figures in their illustrations will be (barely) dressed in these sprayed-on pieces that look almost nude – but with a leather, latex or metal finish. Like a completely skin tight sheer pair of jeans that fade into the skin, for example.”
This research manifests in pieces such as the Prowl bodysuit, which was created to mimic the three-dimensional curves of the body even when it is not being worn, and is finished off with chrome dome nipple studs and a zipped backside. “That piece takes two days to create from start to finish,” explains the designer. “It’s a real labour of love. I love the simplicity of the Valentina heart panty also,” continues Mariani. “It’s gotten very polarising reactions so far … ” The lookbook for Skin Tight Leather, featuring both the Prowl and the Valentina, was shot by Anna Sampson, with images that are soft and hazy to exude a distinct feeling of the 1980s. “They were so beautiful they didn’t need much collaging or manipulation,” says the designer. First published here as part of this article, the images also are available in a printed book, bound with a tight leather obi belt for a finishing touch.
Purchasing a piece by R&M leathers is a real investment – not only due to the fact that each is crafted by hand in Mariani’s studio, but because “a redeeming feature of leather is that with the right care it will get better with age,” she says. The designer also notes that beeswax and nourishing leather creams will keep the surface of a garment supple and protect it from the elements – but cleaning should always be done by a specialist. As for Mariani’s plans for the future of the label, she hints at some special collaborations in the pipeline. “I’m also hopefully going to start making some menswear, too,” she concludes. But for now, take a look at what’s on offer from Skin Tight Leather, and start making your wishlist.