Despite only starting up in February, and putting on its debut show last week, London-based label MEAT has already been gaining international attention, with Azealia Banks recently rocking a MEAT design in Elle USA. In a Don’t Panic exclusive, we catch up with designer Boadicea Claridge as she gives her first ever interview.
How has it been setting up your own label (and what inspired the name ‘MEAT’)?
Rubber is a thick, substantial material, like a second skin when worn – and ‘meat’ suggests flesh and the body; it was too perfect not to love and keep! MEAT was only born in February, and setting up the label has been so exciting and challenging; a massive learning curve. Finally arriving at the fashion show is one of the most satisfying achievements ever!
Tell us a bit about your debut collection, I LUV YOU. What were the kind of inspirations and references behind it, and what did you set out to achieve?
I LUV YOU is all the things that excite me, made into a real thing! Tumblr is a huge source of inspiration, and even though I was only a child through the ‘90s, I remember the pop bands and styles, so I’m calling on these memories and mixing them into the fashion I create so I can wear it. I wanted to mush together aesthetics from Barbie to The Matrix, sprinkle on a little ‘90s on and ghetto it up! It’s not a serious, dark concept – more fun, and a little bit sexy. People can easily transform into cartoon characters when wearing my rubber, and I love that.
As a design material, what is it about rubber that appeals to you so much?
My love in life (second to my husband) is rubber. I’m a complete rubberist – naturally this is rooted in fetish, but with MEAT I’m bringing rubber out of fetish and into fashion. I want to open people’s eyes to see how everyone can wear this amazing material – it doesn’t have to be about sex!
How did you first get into fashion?
I never planned to move into fashion, it’s only since January that I’ve begun to call myself a designer. I studied Visual Communication at Birmingham City University, but despite receiving a First in Illustration, I never drew; my love was 3D and craft. I had my epiphany at [fetish nightclub] Torture Garden – after seeing people in latex I wanted some in my life! I glued my first pieces of rubber together in March 2011, and made my wedding dress a month later.
Even though this is your debut range, you're already picking up some pretty impressive international interest – Azealia Banks recently wore MEAT in Elle USA, how did that come about?
I’m amazed with how well my work has been received so far! I was approached by [fashion director/editor] Nicola Formichetti to borrow a piece for Azealia’s shoot after seeing [MEAT’s creative brand consultant] Alis Pelleschi wearing my work on Facebook. It’s astonishing how the demand for my work took off from having a few dresses on people’s profiles. I was just making things I like.
Who would you love to see wearing your designs?
Grace Jones! She is a goddess, and if she did wear my rubber I would live a very complete and contented life thereafter.
Your clothes are really distinct from other designs in style right now – do you think this might pose any challenges in getting your work accepted by a wider mainstream audience?
What drives me is to create work that I’m proud of and love. I’m not bothered by mainstream fame – obviously I’d love more people to see my work, but money doesn’t motivate me at all. I know that rubber is a love it or hate it material, and there are even people who are allergic to it…
Do you have any ideas in mind for your next collection? Go on, give us a few hints...
I always have ideas, my phone is full of notes and I can never sleep – but I won’t be giving anything away just yet; my favourite thing about my work is the reveal! Ultimately, I want people to come to me with their fantasies and I make them come true. I would love MEAT to be known as the first label to bring latex to the masses in a wearable and accessible way, and to smash the old ignorant perceptions of rubber. I want to share this with the world, not just London.
You can see the full collection at meatclothing.co.uk. Thanks to Al De Perez and Alis Pelleschi for use of images.