Holy Catwoman! What do I wear?

Invited to the Batman and Robin premiere, Rebecca Lowthorpe faced a dilemma. What's the Gotham City dress code? She went to Soho's rubber shops in search of a killer catsuit
Click to follow
The Independent Online
"This is your chance to wear one of those Liz Hurley numbers," says an envious friend. Forget it! Safety pins won't be up George Clooney's street; besides, I don't have those sort of breasts.

A real fashion dilemma kicks in. I decide that I have really got to go for it, you know, get in to the caped crusader spirit of things. So, the question is should I do a Poisoned Ivy or a Batgirl look?

I head to Soho for inspiration. First stop is Slinky's in Walkers Court, next door to the Raymond Revue Bar, in the heart of rubber-land. "Do you have anything Batgirl-ish?" I ask a large lady behind the counter (pink mohican, lots of leather and pierced eyelids), who shows me her range of PVC. I decide to try on a pounds 75 catsuit.

The catsuit goes on easily enough... Hold on, I didn't realise there was a zip down there, too. Looks fabulous though; very Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. There's something to be said for shiny PVC - it positively lights up the complexion. Unfortunately, I encounter a rather large problem in that I can't actually move in it, let alone sit down for the duration of a film. I shuffle out of the changing room in the inflexible catsuit and ask to try on some rubber instead.

A svelte black rubber dress (pounds 85 - these "fabrics" don't come cheap) makes embarrassing squelching and slapping noises as I drag it over my body. What a fit! Forget Lycra, there's nothing like rubber to hold and lift. What's more, I am very surprised that said dress has all the elements of this season's trends; plunge neckline, back split (albeit far higher than was shown on the catwalk) and cut just below the knee. But will George Clooney get these subtle fashion nuances? I think not. Trouble is, I am totally stuck in an elephant-miming position with the dress caught under my arms, which are thrown in front of my body like a trunk. I daren't ask for help from the big lady with pierced eyelids or the next-door changing room, which is giving off bizarre noises (it sounds like outfits are being tried on that involve chains). Eventually, I wriggle out of the rubber and the buying of very expensive Gotham-esque items.

Next stop is The Pleasure Zone, just around the corner in Peter Street. "I want to look like Uma Thurman as Poisoned Ivy. Got anything suitable?" A pregnant sales assistant in pretty broderie anglaise shirt points out fabulous bright green rubber stockings (pounds 30). Totally Poison Ivy. At least, it will be if I top it off with the fuschia "Glamour Wig" (pounds 12.50) I spotted at the fancy-dress hire place Stagestruck? on Spitalfields Market (41 Brushfield Street, London E1). I wonder if I can stand to wear a pinching wig all night, and what about the flaming orange eyebrows? Suppose I'll just have to improvise with Blu-Tack and car paint.

"Have you had much experience with rubber?" asks the sales assistant, holding up a bottle of Johnson's Baby Powder. I try and hide from her in the changing room but the curtains don't seem to meet properly. Help! "Take all your clothes off and sprinkle this on your bum and tum for the dress and then inside the foot of the stocking and everything will roll on nicely," she advises. It does (but I still keep my pants on). "You'll have to come out and have a look; the mirror's out here," she says. I look like a frog although I get appreciative stares from an OAP couple over by the exotic lingerie section. Miss Broderie Anglaise fetches me a pair of "unique homemade shoes" (pounds 45) which happen to be very Alexander McQueen in that they are seriously pointy and have vertiginous spike heels. I get handy advice on how to care for rubber, which is a) wash in baby shampoo; b) drip dry; c) use Mr Sheen for a high shine (apparently the bright pink potpourri one is best).

In the end, I don't think George will go for this 6-ft green-toad look. Meanwhile, I hear from envious friends that Uma has called in a couple of bias-cut dresses from Pearce Fionda. So I spend the next morning in the designer duo's studio trying on heaps of satin-back crepe. Finally I decide to opt for a long black jersey dress, by Hussein Chalayan, and a black jacket by Pearce Fionda. Well, if it's good enough for Uma...n

`Batman and Robin' opens in cinemas nationwide on Friday

Comments