Atsuko Kudo is a London-based designer that walks the fine line between finesse and kitsch to produce balanced beauty with bold classics. Her designs have beed on the catwalks of Hussein Chalayan and Vivienne Westwood, graced the covers of 'Vogue', 'GQ Style' and 'Harpers's Bazaar'. Leopard lace and prints, patent tights - beloved by top designers, have become her trademark.

PINCH OF PEPPER

Atsuko Kudo's webpage greets you with a red heart and moves to a photo of an elegant woman with a long cigarette holder in her mouth, a leopard-print suit and a broad-brimmed hat. A little mysterious, but strong and attractive. Her latex suit glistens - the first sign that this is not fashion for the faint of heart. In fact, Atsuko Kudo won this year's European Fetish Award for Best Fetish Design.

Atsuko Kudo's predecessors have included greats such as Yva Richard in the carefree 1920's, who designed sexy outfits of lace and leather. She entered historical annals as an eccentric figure - she not only designed, but also advertised her 'wares'. Her photographs are rare collectors' items that show up at the prestigious exhibitions. Richard's outfits were extremely popular for their variety, boldness and imagination.

One of the photographs depicts Richard sitting in a a chair wearing only a fur-lined coat and shiny tights with a marked seam. Fetish is a sold as sexuality itself, but the term was popularised in the 20th century along with the growth of photography and haute fashion. The accoutrements of an iron dominatrix were catalogued by Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher Masoch who thus lent his name to the term sadomasochism. His ideal woman strayed from the Victorian values of reticence and charm. Quite the opposite, she had to be strong, impudent and even cruel. She wore a fur-trimmed coat, high laced boots and sported the requisite whip.

Monotony is fashions greatest enemy and courage its biggest ally. Just like so many of the greatest designers, it is worthwhile to sometimes break accepted canon. Fetish wear may be just the inspiration. A sexy woman is always wearing...

A4 Magazine : English Text Translation