Latex fashion designer Zamra of Dollskin Designs chats about second skin, lube, Jean Paul Gaultier, and being blown by Stephen Hawking.
You’ve stated that your work as an alternative model and a fire performer have greatly influenced your Dollskin Designs line. How so?
As an alternative model I was exposed to some of the best latex available & learned what looked good in pictures & on bodies. As a performer I had to figure out what to look for so I would be able to move around comfortably & what was easiest to get in & out of quickly. This has helped me make Dollskin Designs clothing fit better, accentuate each individual’s figure in the most flattering way, and more functional as far as getting dressed (or undressed!). Instead of struggling with powder or lube required for most pull-on styles my customers have only to zip or snap.
Tell us about the first time you bought a latex costume/outfit and what you love about wearing latex.
I stumbled upon my first latex piece, a halter dress, while out shopping with a friend. At that point I didn’t know much about latex & had to be helped into the dress by the sales clerk, but once it was on I was sold. It hugged my curves in a way I had never seen before! Later when I learned to shine it up, it was even more breath-taking. Latex feels, smells, & looks like nothing else out there, that’s why I love it!
When did your interest in fashion design begin? Are you all self taught, or do you have formal training in fashion?
I’ve always been interested in fashion. I always loved putting together outfits when I was little & grew up playing around with different styles. After dreaming about clothes I could never seem to find ready-made I started altering the stuff I could. That led to making some things from scratch. To date I don’t have any formal training, but do have plans to go back to school for it so I can polish my skills & learn some new tricks.
As a designer, what are the challenges in working with latex? What is rewarding? Is the delicate nature of latex a gift or a curse?
Latex can definitely be a pain in the behind sometimes. It will decide to tear if you breathe on it wrong, It’s finicky on how it needs to be cleaned & stored. It likes to get static-y & cling to itself, especially when glue is involved. The rewarding part comes when you finish a piece, get it on a body, & shine it. Then the full effect kicks in. It’s usually pretty amazing! Latex’s delicate nature can be a curse, but it’s also what makes this material so beautiful & unique.
What is the inspiration for your designs?
I usually designs around my own eclectic style preferences, but am influenced by almost everything! I’ll look at medical tubing & picture a futuristic cyber outfit. Or an ornate wallpaper design & imagine a fabulous gown.
Who are your favorite fashion designers right now (alternative or high fashion)?
Of course I’m a fan of other latex designers, but also follow lots of corset & lingerie makers, leather workers, etc. As far as high fashion I like Jean Paul Gaultier & Alexander McQueen, as well as the flashier designers from Project Runway & the like.
What should gals look for in creating their first latex outfit? What are the indicators of a quality piece?
You just need a basic idea of what you’d like. Some clients come to me with this & we come up with color options & creative details together. I always recommend starting with a basic, we can always add more detail to it later. I also like to factor in whether it needs to come on & off quickly & the buyers familiarity with this material.
Indicators of a quality pieces are seams that are smooth, clean & even. Zippers, snaps & under wire obviously take a higher skill set. The main way to tell is just to put it on & shine it up! It should mold to
you without being constrictive. You piece should be thick enough to smooth out your figure but thin enough to give that delicious second skin feel. And it should shine up to a glossy finish.
If you could have dinner with any five people, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
One seat at this fantasy dinner would belong to Gary Oldman. He’s always intrigued me with his chameleon like acting ability.
Another seat would go to Vincent Van Gough. Although I don’t care for many impressionist painters, I’ve always liked his work. And it would be fun to try to learn the truth behind some of the wilder stories about him.
Stephen Hawking is another choice. I’m a huge science nerd & love having my mind blown.
Trent Reznor would also be on the list. As musical geniuses go, he’s one of my favorites. His music makes me think, it would be nice to share!
Rounding out the guest list is the artist Olivia De Berardinis. She has worked with & portrayed some of the best pin-up, burlesque, & alternative models out there & her work is stunningly gorgeous.
What does the future hold for Zamra and Dollskin Designs?
In the immediate future is a men’s wear line & a brand spanking new website, www.dollskindesigns.com More style & color options. All new technically complex details courtesy of some schooling and a lot of practice. Basically I want to make all the pieces I’ve dreamed up for myself & make others latex dreams come true as well. Bigger & better everything!