If you have any awareness of the contribution London label Inner Sanctum made to fetish fashion in the nineties and early noughties, you’ll realise the significance of its plans to launch four new latex collections this year.
The company only recently emerged from a protracted period of internal upheaval and reorganisation. During this period, its ability to maintain its position as a top fetish innovator and purveyor of pervy glamour was inevitably compromised.
Other brands at the quality end of fetish fashion moved into some of the space it previously called its own, while further down the market, a number of its original designs were being blatantly recycled by copyists.
However, having achieved by the end of last year both its relocation to new (yet familiar) premises on London’s Holloway Road and a successful launch for its new website, Inner Sanctum was once again in a position to focus on what it is best known for — creating vibrant, sexy, high quality, head-turning latex clothing with that guaranteed oomph factor.
The new Inner Sanctum range we’re showing you here is the first of this year’s four planned collections. The first IS collection to use those exciting new latex colours from Radical Rubber, it’s the foundation of what's to come, promises designer Ana Sanctum, with much more Rad Rubber lined up for upcoming styles.
“The collection is based around light and dark and magic,” she explains. The range provides the foundation of an evolutionary design process that will deliver “ever more detail and diversity” over the year as the project evolves.
New designs such as the black Demonia catsuit combine refreshing, elegant simplicity with original detailing that make them stand out instantly from the crowd.
In this case, the distinctive cup shape — christened Demonia when IS introduced it for other garments some years ago, and not meant as a reference to the French fetish organisation — gives the catsuit obvious sexiness while the addition of the short cape adds a hint of mystery and sophistication.
That cape is a simple but oh-so-cool touch. A deeply resonant element of classic dominatrix attire — think Bulle Ogier in Maitresse — capes are a style woefully underemployed by modern latex designers.
It’s great to see Ana giving one a new lease of life here, albeit conceived more as “a cute Little Red Riding Hood item that just happens not to be red” than as a tribute to any particular whip-wielding movie domme!
Elsewhere, Ms Sanctum has started to introduce designs featuring Swarovski crystals. Her crystal-bedecked heart pasties are modelled here by Eden as part of an all-new outfit comprising quarter-cup corselette, thong and stockings, executed in Electric Rose latex from Radical Rubber’s distinctive Electric colour range.
“Eden is another iconic woman. She has fetish star quality, fetish noir character, movie star quality. I’m thrilled to be working with her” – Ana
This brings us, naturally, to talk of Inner Sanctum’s models, who have always been such an important part of their success story.
Three models feature in our shoot but the one modelling the lion’s share of the outfits is Eden, a young Berlin-based fetishista whose talents first came to our attention a couple of German Fetish Balls ago.
Ana reckons Eden’s exotic beauty (in which many people see something of the younger Dita) made her ideal for this shoot. “She really steals the show — she’s so perfect for the outfits.
“She’s another iconic woman, a real fetish woman,” enthuses the designer. “She has fetish star quality, fetish noir character, movie star quality. I’m thrilled to be working with her. She really did deliver as far as we were concerned.”
Even her name is perfect, thinks Ana. “It suggests the Garden of Eden; the temptress.” And watching this temptress model her green Lilly gown, Ana is enthralled by the combination.
“Elegant but still slightly sinister” is how she sees it. “It’s the whole ‘dark turns into light’ thing, a metaphor for sex itself.”
The crucial rôle of the photography in all this must not be forgotten, and Pfauenberg — another Berlin talent — has proved a worthy successor to previous Inner Sanctum collaborators James & James.
“He approached us,” Anna reveals. “When our new website came out, he e-mailed us, saying he was a photographer and he liked our work.
“I went onto his commercial site and even though it is not a fetish site, I could see that he knew what he was doing. You can tell immediately who knows how to set up the lights and who doesn’t. Also, he uses proper hair and make-up people, which is very important.
“So I sent out the clothes, and this is what he came up with,” she says, in possibly the understatement of the year.
The new latex collection may be significant but it’s not the only thing the revitalised label has to shout about. Visitors to the new Inner Sanctum Online site will notice that the company now offers more than just its own-design latex garments.
“We’ve been testing the market for lingerie and corsetry, and it's been a big success so we'll be expanding to other carefully selected brands throughout the year,” says Ana.
After starting out with a selection from the What Katie Did range, Inner Sanctum Online has added corsets from Velda Lauder and Voller, and will soon be stocking Kiss Me Deadly lingerie too.
The new website has been a marked success already, and there are plans over the coming months for an array of new service features as well as a design refresh.
It all adds up to one inescapable fact: Inner Sanctum is very much back in the game.
The new website has been a marked success already, and there are plans for an array of new service features as well as a design refresh