Atsuko Kudo started to produce her collections in 2000. Since that time she designs exclusively in latex. With pioneering techniques she always experiments with print, filigree, patterns, textures. The result is a strong elegance, which is never vulgar. Even using just one material the originality and the creativity of this designer are always very powerful. Dresses and accessories that are full of energy and that show also a subtle irony. With her corsets, suits, hats, accessories, until the unforgettable Beyoncé’s yellow latex cowgirl outfit for the "Telephone" video clip of Lady Gaga, Atsuko Kudo is pushing the fascination of latex to the highest level and always with an incredible sophistication.
The brand Atsuko Kudo already has a worldwide importance since many years. Some of the most beautiful and most famous women on the earth are your clients. You won a lot of fashion prizes and your works appear in the most important fashion reviews. Do you think that there are still some prejudices and taboos about latex as a couture material?
That's a very kind introduction. Latex was a fetish fabric in the past and it still is now. It doesn’t make you warm like wool, doesn’t have a daily function like cotton. It’s a shiny second skin that is in some ways restrictive and feels very different on your skin. You need to use talcum powder or lubricant to wear it. You wear latex for your pleasure. When it's cut properly it will make you feel like a super woman but it's not necessarily for everyone. Though I think everyone should try it.
Some of the outfits that you created for the video clips of famous pop stars had immediately been iconic. Which is the importance of the link with the music for your brand?
It's great that popstars want to wear Atsuko Kudo. They can add a special element and also make latex acessible to the world and hopefully it will give them extra edge and glamour in return. It's a happy collaboration.
You collaborated with many designers during Paris Fashion Week and Milan Fashion Week such as Hussein Chalayan, Manish Arora, Cerruti, Vivienne Westwood, and Karl Lagerfeld. Which one of these experiences did you enjoy most? Which one of these designers was particularly in tune with your vision of fashion?
I enjoyed every collaboration we did and hopefully every one of them had bit of AK in them. When we worked with Mugler for Nicola Formichetti's first Paris collection there I felt it like a special moment too. But each one has something unique. The one for Hussein Chalayan was the first one and he is a very amazing designer too so that had a particularly beautiful aesthetic.
The video “Dressing for pleasure” realized in collaboration with Nick Knight’s staff was SHOWstudio’s most watched live studio stream of 2012. This is a huge goal which underlines how interesting is your work for the public. How do you feel?
We were very thrilled to find out it was so popular. It was very fun and inspiring to work with Nick Knight and the SHOWstudio team. It’s great to find out their audience enjoyed it as much as we did.
One of the dresses that you realized for Lady Gaga was in collaboration with Thierry Mugler in support of AIDS awareness. Your last runway at Old Billingate was in aid of the 7 Bar Foundation (which helps to empower impoverished women). Do you think that fashion can help the society to get better?
Yes. Fashion is vision and a message to show who you are and what you believe in. It can help to change the way people think and live.
About your origins and the place in which you live. You are based in London, which is the capital of the punk and which is so connected with the use of latex in fashion, but you was born in Japan. Do your origins influence you? And what about London? Does being in London inspire you?
London is such an exciting city. That’s why I came here all the way from Japan. I love the way that New and History mix together. So many creative people are here. Japan is almost one nation so it's very different but also amazing. But it’s inspiring to meet people from many different cultures and find out so many different way of thinking and doing things too.
About your last collection. You described the concept of your last collection “restricted love” as bittersweet. Do you think that is a concept strictly connected with the epoch in which we live? Do you think that the impossibility of express emotions is something that is especially true for this period?
I think in some ways now we have more opportunity to express our emotions now and in other ways they are more suppressed. Suppressed emotions mixed with joy are very powerful. Pain and Joy. It’s… Fetish.
Do you think latex as a way to restricting love?
Latex restrict you in just right amount. That's how it should be. It's a super shiny
fabric to take you to the place unordinary. So it's not restricting love as in limiting it. It can define love too.
SHOWstudio’s video “Dressing for pleasure” shows the spectator the importance of the time when somebody get dressed with latex. Your last runaway was based in Wong Kar Wai’s movie “In the mood for love”, which is an ode to the slowness in the passing of the time. How do you perceive the importance of dimension of the time in the items you design?
You cannot rush with latex. Just take your time and enjoy. It was great to be given a platform of time. In the case of Dressing For Pleasure we had 4 hours to dress one beautiful girl in latex – how could we not enjoy that! With the Restricted Love show it was a challenge to persuade the production team that the models should walk so slowly for the first 3 or 4 looks. My partner and husband Simon Walter Hoare did a great job on mixing the music for the for both projects – which added to create the special feeling of time passing beautifully. When I design the clothes I want them to have time to breathe and to enjoy the sensual moment. Life is so quick in the modern world so it is nice to create moments, which are just for pleasure.