Libidex first came to the latex scene in 1989 when designer Helen Saffery launched a brand new range of latex clothing. She dubbed it “Libidex” – combining libido with latex. Helen teamed up with rubber enthusiast and designer Simon Rose, and the two of them developed a collection of stunning latex garments that made rubber fetishists and fashion designers alike sit up and take notice.
The designs created by Libidex back then were ground-breaking in the latex world, pre-empting the couture/latex crossover designs of Gaultier, Mugler and McQueen. Helen was the first person to design legs and feet on latex garments which were actually tailored from the human body – her own, in fact. The Libidex latex fit was famous – and of course it got copied by a lot of other people, so now it’s the industry standard. The Matrix Catsuit was a real innovation – making a fashion feature of building the garment from a series of panels. It’s not surprising that the Matrix became the benchmark Libidex latex catsuit.
Over the next ten years, the latex fetish scene scene grew fast, with fashion luminaries such as Jean-Paul Gaultier himself appearing at events such as Torture Garden and the Rubber Ball. Libidex too got to be quite well known amongst the glitterati and some of society’s more colourful characters. In the quintessential nineties scandal, Tory MP David Mellor’s mistress Antonia de Sancha cavorted Sun style in a Libidex catsuit, and the late Paula Yates chose to relaunch Britain’s seminal style and music show The Tube in Libidex. Caprice front-paged on Esquire in Libidex designs, doing a double encore on the cover of The Times magazine. Libidex began a close association with photographer Bob Carlos Clarke, who photographed numerous Libidex latex outfits, including a shoot for his fetish calendars. Libidex latex was also popular with actress Rachel Weisz and models Paula Hamilton and Vanessa Upton. Vanessa, one of London’s favourite fetish models also appeared in the Loaded Calendar, this time in a Libidex nurse’s outfit.