First and foremost, says Paul Swanson, we should endeavour to make the wearing of leather and vinyl a natural rather than furtive event.
What could the ordinary man-in-the-street do if the leather-clad lady adorning a cover of Atomage was walking towards him down his local High Street? He would probably avoid her gaze until she had walked past him, and then he might just sneak a look. Possibly because, giving him the benefit of the doubt, it’s rude to stare at a pretty girl anyway, but more than likely because she was wearing a black leather cat-suit. The symbol of the bold, free, sexually aware woman of today. It is even more likely that he has never seen a girl face to face dressed in quite such striking fashion. There is, after all, nothing obscene about the design: it’s very practical, and isn’t leather supposed to be reasonably ‘in’ the fashion these days? No, I’m afraid that despite its basic popularity even since Honor Blackman started to wear her Avenger gear, for anyone to be dressed in an ‘excess’ of vinyl or leather, they must be queer, kinky, certainly a little depraved and, at the very least, operate a torture chamber in the cellar.
It seems to me to be a very sad situation, but one which could improve if we all resolved to do something about it. After the Avengers, there was so much leather, simulated leather and vinyl, (albeit of poor quality and design in most cases) in the shops, that the ladies were wearing it for all occasions. It really looked here to stay, and those devotees who knew all about this “new” fashion material long before the craze, at last wondered if they (the ladies at least) could wear a leather two-piece suit Under that lovely vinyl coat with the matching stiletto heeled boots. All this without receiving those odd looks which we seem to get.’ But it didn’t last, did it? Although leather and vinyl have remained reasonably popular the craze waned. Those stalwarts brave enough to venture out with coat and boots rarely seem to keep them clean, shiny and in good order. Often the boots are a different colour or material from the coat, and as for the vinyl that passes for vinyl, enough said. The stiletto heel has been replaced and now we have the clump. Oh, dear!
The ordinary British public simply do not understand leather. They are a little afraid of it, and yet fascinated by those bold enough to wear it from top-to-toe like Miss Blackman, and, I hope, a few of those ladies struggling through this article with me.
Now again we have a show-biz personality in the public eye bringing leather to the fore. Indeed it was a chance meeting with a delightful lady at a pop concert given by Miss Suzi Quatro, the American rock singer whose love of bizarre leather clothing is now well -known to most, that inspired me to write this article. The audience at this particular concert comprised mainly the younger element as is usual, but then in the foyer at the interval I noticed this elegant middle aged lady, superbly dressed in black leather. She wore a three quarter length coat over a long- sleeved belted dress, 4 in. high heeled boots and matching gloves and handbag, all in shining, good condition and perfectly fitted. It was too good a chance to miss, so I waited until she ha had despatched her teenage girl companion for an ice or something then tentatively approached. Introducing myself as being in public relations for the theatre, I expressed admiration for her outfit and presumed she was obviously a fan of Miss Quatro’s, and, therefore, liked to dress in the same mode. “I make my own occasions to wear leather as often as possible” she retorted, and it wasn’t until I owned up to her that I was a devotee also that she explained. Apparently she had been introduced to leather by her late husband, and seeing the effect she produced on him, began to collect all manner of garments until she had amassed a considerable wardrobe for their enjoyment. When he died she carried on wearing leather possibly to an even greater degree, and felt completely self-confident in doing so.
She is now considering the more unusual designs, and has become a very close friend of mine through our mutual affection for leather and vinyl. She had come to that concert not only to accompany her niece, but because it was an occasion that called for leather to be worn at all costs. On looking around me as the lady walked back to her seat, there were many glances in her direction,. but they were full of admiration not distaste, as by this time she had taken off her coat to reveal her skin-tight dress.
Her boldness had seemingly overcome all prejudice that night, and proved how easily we could all help our cause if the will is there. So, ladies, step out in your new outfit, admiring husband by your side. Be not afraid to slip off your coat, revealing that little black leather dress to fellow diners. And remember those polished leather boots that are so flattering to your legs.
Then perhaps they will stop calling us those names. What is a fetishist anyway?