From 1pm yesterday, and until 10pm tomorrow night London's Olympia is the venue for a most peculiar exhibition. It's called "Erotica" and is the first show based on the theme ever to be staged in London, although Holland and Germany stage several a year. Advance sales are phenomenal, and have far exceeded the organisers expectations. Furthermore, 40 per cent of those registered are female. An event of this kind needs what's called a "Sex Establishment Licence" and nobody was respectable enough to earn one, until organiser Brian Wiseman applied.
Wiseman comes from a fashion background. He was the first to realise the potential of men's fashion in the early Seventies, when he set up the Menswear Association of Britain (MAB), and ended up running the Blenheim Group, which organised 90 exhibitions annually. "Erotica" came about because he says "too many people go to their grave without realising their fantasies", but really it looks like an excuse for a lot of fun.
Apart from the Erotic Art Gallery, video shops, Fetish Village, lap-dancing bar, tattoo and piercing parlours, there will be plenty of clothes on offer. In fact, there is a constant rotation of fashion shows from 1.30pm until 9.30pm both today and tomorrow, featuring everything from corsets, to lingerie, fetish wear and fashion for both sexes. This subject may cause some people to wrinkle their noses in disgust, but so- called "fetish wear" was one of the biggest fashion stories of the early Nineties, and it's now commonplace to see models wearing jewelled corsets or walking the catwalk with bare-breasts.
Velda Lauder (left) is one of the many fashion exhibitors, who also number lingerie supremos Agent Provocateur and high shoe specialists Ad Hoc (below). Lauder's corsets have been worn by supermodel Amber Valetta and various American goth and rock chicks including Cyndi Lauper. Her aim is to help women "enhance their femininity to the point of fantasy", and this is exactly what she does. Wearing one of her corsets will reduce the waist by at least four inches, create a cleavage and enhance the hips. "It's all come full circle now," she says, "especially thanks to McQueen and Gaultier." Lauder's favourite designer, however, is Thierry Mugler.
The same goes for body armour and chain-mail specialists Surrender. Thierry Mugler, not only reciprocates their admiration but he has also commissioned Surrender to make certain items for his collection. Designer Sebastian Nastasi doesn't class his business as a fashion company, but simply says "we make unusual, unique garments". The process he uses to turn aluminum into body armour and chain mail is patented, and Nastasi feels he occupies unexplored territory. He certainly has many fans in the film, theatre and fashion business who employ him on a regular basis. The opening scenes of the film Preaching to the Perverted feature their armour, and both Caprice Bouret and Paula Hamilton have modelled their chain-mail bikinis, which weigh upwards of 200g each.
For those who have not bought advance tickets, entry to "Erotica" will cost pounds 25. It might be worth it just to see what all the fuss is about.
Erotica, National Hall, Olympia,
Today: 1-10pm Tomorrow: 1- 9pm
Discounted pre-booking tickets can be obtained through Olympia on: 0171- 244 7774Reuse content