by Kristel Liakou
If someone asked me to name a person who identifies with the “new businesswoman” identity, I would definitely go for Angelika Darkling. She is young, fresh and what she does is quite un-common. Although she is lacking financial background, she hangs tough. In an economically depressed country, she is creating non- popular art for those who understand.
Angelika is 27 years-old and she is one of the few -if not the only one- Greek latex designer. Although she has studied old-school pattern making, her expertise was on creatively using latex. We met in her apartment, in Athens, and had a really nice talk about fashion, sustainability, latex, BDSM culture and more. She enlightens my knowledge on latex -I even know about latex care now- and I hope this interview will have the same effects on you.
The other day I was reading a report about PVC -widely known as “pleather” or “vinyl”. It appears that it is carcinogenic and it could affect your health even if you touch it. Moreover, PVC pollutes the earth big-time. Does “latex” belong to the same material family? Or is it conscious to use it?
This is a big misconception about latex. Actually, it has nothing in common with the synthetic PVC. Latex is a natural material, harvested from the bark of the rubber tree. It is biodegradable, so it is absolutely conscious to use.
I have watched this video on Youtube a while ago, that shows the reactions of women who wear latex for the first time. They were all excited. Have you witnessed similar reactions when you dress someone for the first time? In your opinion, why is this happening?
I often witness the same reactions! There are many different emotions that you go through when you first try-on latex clothes. First of all, you’ve got the “skin feel” of how the latex itself “tickles” your skin and senses. It’s an indescribable and an unique experience for each one of us. Secondly, when you realize how comfortable you actually feel in your “second skin” -even though it’s so tight- another series of emotions are fired.
Latex protects and exposes your body at the same time. It’s very different from anything you have ever tried on. Also, it’s very flattering for your silhouette -bringing out its best features. Consequently, looking at yourself in the mirror is another very exclusive feeling that latex provides!
You have been a part of “Athens Erotic Art Festival 2016” as an exhibitor. How did you experience being a part of something that big?
I had a fashion show every day on a big stage, with great music, in front of a large audience. Τhrough that I was able to introduce latex to many people at once. I spent four days with beautiful models, dressing them up in latex outfits. It was an amazing and at the same time exhausting experience that I would happily go through again!
Latex is a very controversial material, often rings a bell for BDSM culture. Regarding that you were placed in the BDSM area at the “Athens Erotic Art Festival 2016”, what are your thoughts about this culture, that has started to get bigger the last few years. Is latex though only about that?
As a shibari rigger and performer (with Rope Studies and Athens Rope Dojo), it is very nice for me to see BDSM being accepted by the public. I think that BDSM culture getting bigger and out of basements is definitely a good thing. It helps people to feel comfortable and accept their sexuality, and more importantly live their fantasies, instead of being embarrassed and ashamed -like most them would, some years ago.
Despite the fact that latex clothing is a huge fetish for some, it can also be a fashion statement, depending on who and how one wears it. I personally have always been and will continue to make pieces that can be worn be anyone, and not just in the bedroom!
Being a latex designer in a pretty old-fashioned society like the Greek one must be hard -full of misconceptions of what you are doing. Some people may think of your work as vulgar. Is there a difference between you and a typical fashion designer, apart from the material that you use?
I was born and raised in a conservative society, so I am trained to go after what I want in order to be happy. Staying true to who you are -without being negatively influenced by other peoples’ opinions or judgments- is a pretty much-needed skill, that I mastered before starting working with latex. It doesn’t bother me if someone thinks of my work as vulgar because that would be a person I would think of as a prude and/or sexually repressed.
The difference between me and a typical fashion designer I would say is the trust that is developed between me and my customers. For instance, imagine someone coming to me and asking me to make him/her a very kinky outfit, that would use for his/her most private moments. That person has to be perfectly comfortable with me in order to express his/her needs and work with me (meetings, fittings etc).
What are your future plans?
I am planning some interesting photoshoots in collaboration with talented, creative people, while I am designing and making some new latex creations for a fashion show that I will present at the “Venus in Furs” event in Second Skin Club, this May, in Athens.