THIS POST CONTAINS ADULT THEMES
When sourcing a fix of retro fetish imagery. Most aim for the 1950’s Irving Klaw era of underground deviancy. Makes perfect sense; the pictures are beautiful, poses immaculate and who’s day is not brightened by the sight of Bettie Page? However one might wonder, where did the inspiration come from? While most associate vintage fetishism with the 1950’s, the history of subversive sexuality began many decades earlier. Here are some of the important purveyors for pervs.
Diana Slip- Before Agent Provocateur, before Frederick’s of Hollywood. If one was searching for the naughtiest lingerie chances were they would turn to Diana Slip. Started by Leo Vidal in Paris during the 1930’s, Vidal’s ‘specialist’ lingerie and accutrements had a virtual cult following. 1936, Vidal created Gauloises Publishing, thus facilitating afficiandos with not just wear and tools. But magazines and photographs to satisfy their particular proclivities. Vidal even managed to have artists such as Brassai, Roger Schall and Jean Morel captures and create magnificent pieces of art with his lingerie. However by the end of WWII Slip ceased to exist.
Charles Guyette- AKA ‘the G-String Man’, if one is to sell specialist lingerie. One needs a sympathetic photographers, so step in Charles Guyette. Based in New York, Guyette created a nice niche for himself catering to wants of wanton clients. His counterpart in Paris was Jacques Biederer. I have elected to not include Biederer in the entry for purely self centred reasons. I don’t like his Photography style, a little too Victorian for my taste.
Yva Richard- The only competitor to Diana Slip, the lingerie company was founded in 1923 by husband and wife team Nativa and L. Richard. Nativa actually modelled many of the pieces herself. Many of the styles sold are now archetypical in modern fetish wardrobe. The over the knee/thigh high boots, metal undergarments and French maid outfits. Most of which were reborn when Irving and Paula Klaw took up the illicit baton of lust. Sadly once Paris was occupied by the Nazi’s Richard halted all trade. Strange when one considers how certain Nazi style has seemed in some Fetish wear.
So why have these trailblazers been largely forgotten? My personal theory is that some of the lingerie featured is rather too fussy and frankly, well ugly. Of course full underwear is sexy too, but since these early fetish photos were taken during the early 20th Century. The Victorian aesthetic lingered on, which in the context of clothing (outer and under) are too heavy and too layered. Where the 1950’s improved, was in simplifying their garments. Thus becoming easier on the eye. Plus the advances in camera photography helped improve the quality and focus of the subject matter. Without these risk takers, we would absolutely not have the classic erotic images that we have now. So to the deviants of yesterday, thank you.