In the past decades vinyl, one of the most versatile and affordable of all materials, has slowly but surely become an integral part of western street fashion. Artificial leather made of both matte vinyl and shiny vinyl, more often than not in black or red, is a longtime favorite of the punk and other underground communities, thanks to its flexibility and affordability.
Beautiful artificial leather corsets, shiny vinyl mini dresses, matte vinyl coats and artificial leather platform boots have been part of both street fashion and club fashion since the heyday of punk in the seventies. In the past decade, shiny vinyl, matte vinyl and snakeskin have secured their spot in the more mainstream fashion scene with accessories like snakeskin totes, shiny vinyl handbags and artificial leather belts.
Fortunately, vinyl is not reserved only for street and alternative fashions. Every now and then an haute couture designer reaches for a swatch of shiny vinyl or snakeskin and creates something exceptional. Christopher Kane is one such designer. At the London Fashion Week last February, this young British designer presented an autumn/winter collection for 2010 that the press unanimously described as “perversely-beautiful.” Kane’s tunic-like dresses, shifts and exquisitely tailored jackets combine leather, lace and shiny vinyl as a textural backdrop for an abundance of brightly colored hand-embroidered floral designs.
For his evening wear collection, Kane takes this theme a step further, combining black leather, lace and shiny vinyl with dazzling crystal hand-embroidered designs that were inspired by the robes worn in the Vatican. With Naomi Campbell, Vogue’s Carine Roitfield and Tonne Goodman, as well as the owner of Arcadia, Sir Philip Green in the front row, you can expect Kane’s innovative and beautiful leather, lace and shiny vinyl designs to appear on the street fashion scene within the next months.
Another designer whose collection never fails to make our jaws drop is Marc Jacobs. This year, Jacob’s spring/summer collection features treasures like his high-heeled gold snakeskin shoe, and his unique tarnished silver high-heeled sandals. True to his reputation of putting a new twist on casual chique, Jacobs also offers a flat silver thong sandal that combines matte vinyl and shiny vinyl for a stylish contrast, and a Japanese-style flat sandal in a combination of red velvet and shiny vinyl.
As always, his bags come in a large variety of styles and sizes, ranging from the Jen tote, made of silver matte vinyl with brass tack work, to the Absinthe, a minimalist artificial leather hand tote made of a grey matte vinyl with an elegant clasp and lock, and one of our personal favorites, the Tulip, a small snakeskin hand tote available in pink and turquoise.
The acclaimed French designer Christian Louboutin, of Jlo and David Lynch fame, offers a fall/winter 2011 collection that demonstrates a truly exceptional use of matte vinyl, shiny vinyl and snakeskin. We thought he couldn’t top our favorite summer sandal – the white leather and shiny vinyl Engin Spikes – but Louboutin’s newest selection of handbags and shoes is exciting, daring and above all sexy. From thigh-high red studded lace-up boots to snakeskin accents on both bags and the highest heels, Louboutin yet again demonstrates his mastery with leather, matte vinyl and snakeskin.
No matter what your taste or scene is, there’s plenty of fashion fun to be had this summer and autumn/winter season with your favorite designs available in fetish fabrics like matte vinyl, latex sheeting, snakeskin and many other others. Keep an eye out for the newest collections in the stores to mix and match all your favorite pieces and remember – fashion fads are temporary, but vinyl is forever.