Fetish fashion began in the late 1700s with corsetry and hobble skirts. Other people argue that it really began after World War II in a rather underground way with gay men wearing leather. During the 1960s, the leather subculture became more mainstream mainly in Great Britain with rock musicians like the Rolling Stones and the Who sporting leather outfits. And then, there was the female lead character of Cathy Gale (played by Honor Blackman) in the Avengers, who wore leather leotards, full-body leather cat suits, thigh-length boots, and shoulder length leather gloves. Fetish fashion became popular in the U.S. in the 1950s through books and magazines like Bizarre and other underground publications. Bondage model and pin-up girl Bettie Page appeared in many magazines in photos shot by fetish photographer Irving Klaw.
Fetish from Fashion
Fetish photographers came out of fetish fashion. They would photograph people in fetish situations like bondage, wearing rubber or leather, or other extremes. There are so many talented fetish painters, illustrators, and photographers that it’s hard to just choose a few.
Eugene “Gene” Bilbrew was one of the first fetish artists and one of the first noted modern African American artists to work in this realm. Bilbrew was as a cartoonist, and was very prolific with his sexually oriented pulp fiction book covers and his illustrations inside the comic books and magazines. His work also appeared in Exotique, a fetish magazine in the late 1950s and he worked at Irving Klaw’s company. The women that were depicted in his work were strong and leather clad in corsets with thigh high hosiery and very pointed high heels and boots. Often, the women dominated men, but other times each other. His work was very elegant and was done in the style of fashion illustration.
A Fetish for Men in Uniform
Tom of Finland (aka Touko Valio Laaksonen) is a Finnish artist known for homoerotic fetish art and he has a huge influence on 20th century gay culture. He started out in advertising and then went on to serve as an anti-aircraft officer during World War II. His time in the military as a lieutenant is what helped him develop a fetish for uniformed men and lead him to the subject matter that he’s famous for. His most controversial work was not his hardcore sex drawings, but men in Nazi uniforms in erotic situations. Tom of Finland was censored many times between 1950 and 1960, but in 1973 male nudity was decriminalized and gay porn became more mainstream in gay culture. This is when his most famous works that were done in a photo realistic drawing style. The Tom of Finland clothing company launched in 1995 and is still popular even after his death, with his images appearing on skateboard decks, grooming items, apparel, home items, and more.
When Metal Meets Curves
Hajime Sorayama is Japanese illustrator known for his detailed erotic female robots. His style can be described as super realism and how technical it can get to get close to an object. Many of the women depicted are unapproachable, and the viewer would rather gaze at them from a far. They are generally silver metal and wear lingerie, sexy dresses that don’t completely cover them or are naked. His work goes beyond the graphic realm and he also has done some amazingly realistic statues. He’s also worked with fashion designer Marc Ecko, George Lucas on Star Wars pin-ups for a tribute book, and his work was featured in Marvel Comic’s Ironman 3 movie.
Giving FemDom’s Flair
Sardax is a pseudonym for an English femdom artist based out of London. He started in the 1980s making art as a hobby. His work is created in ink drawings and watercolors and he has two books, a magazine, limited edition prints, and countless book and magazine illustrations, graphic art for logos, on-line banners, flyers, and posters. His work is classically drawn and looks like it’s from another time with old school outfits and situations. Some of his work is more modern and could be considered as very erotic or pornographic art. The women are always in control and appear traditionally English, and he depicts a variety of types of women from young to old and skinny to very curvy/BBW.
Rope that Frees Your Soul
Photographer Nobuyoshi Araki is notorious for his prolific images, many depict women tied up. At age 77, he is still active in the art world and has over 350 photography books and thousands of photos. He has been quoted as saying, “I tell [people] that I free their souls by tying up their bodies.” His work has been deemed pornographic, especially the intimate photos of his wife during their honeymoon. His works are generally black and white and his style is casual, so the photo doesn’t look too professional and his work will feel intimate to the viewer.
More About the Artists, Photographers & Models
- Irving Klaw – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irving_Klaw
- Bettie Page – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bettie_Page
- Eugene “Gene” Bilbrew – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Bilbrew
- Tom of Finland – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_of_Finland
- Hajime Sorayama – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajime_Sorayama
- Sardax – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sardax
- Nobuyoshi Araki – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobuyoshi_Araki