SARAH VINE ASK : Can anyone look good in latex, It's hot, sweaty, shows off every unwanted lump and even supermodels struggle to carry it

Given the plastic fantastic nature of so many modern female celebrities, the current vogue for wearing latex is not as strange as at first it might seem.

Silicone, latex — they’re in the same textural ballpark; rubber-like materials with an elastic quality to them. If you’ve got the stuff in your bosoms, why not also wear it on your back?

The world is divided into two types of women. Those who wear clothes to cover up and keep warm; and those who believe that the fundamental purpose of any given outfit is to offer the casual observer as intimate a view of their anatomy as possible.

For the latter, latex is the perfect medium. Nothing cleaves to human flesh quite as closely as latex, except perhaps clingfilm.

Pop poppet keen to prove she’s still got what it takes? Don red and white maid outfit  like Kylie. Tired of the world staring at you giant oily behind like Kim Kardashian? Get them focused on the top half

Nothing accentuates every bump quite as effectively as latex, with its shiny, light-reflective surface and four-way stretch. No other material makes it impossible to wear any other sort of underwear than the most flyaway of thongs.

It is, I am told (sadly I have no personal experience of it myself), the most sensual of substances.

This may indeed be true; personally I fail to see the attraction in a garment that must, by necessity, smell of sweat, talcum powder and rubber.

The transgressive aspect is certainly a factor. Latex is to Fifty Shades Of Grey-style shenanigans as oil is to an engine.

Indeed, lubrication in general is key if chafing is to be avoided — assuming that pain is not part of the whole experience.

'It’s one thing being a pert twentysomething in black latex; quite another an ageing former princess with a complexion the colour of a frozen sausage'
'It’s one thing being a pert twentysomething in black latex; quite another an ageing former princess with a complexion the colour of a frozen sausage'

This is why keeping a pot of nappy rash cream Sudocrem in one’s evening bag is advisable. Constriction is part of the appeal, too: the tighter the bond, the greater the release, or so the theory goes.

Where fashion comes into this psycho-sexual equation is simple: fashion is the difference between paying £22.99 for your rubber showstopper from a seedy website (next-day delivery guaranteed, discretion assured, warm spoon not included) and £300 for the London-based designer Atsuko Kudo version.

So if you want to thrill to your own naughtiness when meeting the Queen — and your name is Lady Gaga — pick a Miss Havisham-style design in bright red. If Her Majesty was surprised to find herself shaking hands with a large rubber lobster, she never let on.

And if you are in search of something even more scandalous than showing the entire planet your gigantic oily naked behind, then your top half (for a change) spilling out of some prawn-pink latex is the look for you (Kim Kardashian).

Lost weight and want to show the world you’re no longer a chubby spoilt showbiz brat but a fully-fledged skinny celebrity in your own right? Black with Dynasty-style shoulder pads (Kelly Osbourne).

Pop poppet keen to prove she’s still got what it takes? Giant rubbery bow or red and white maid outfit (Kylie Minogue).

Glorified stripper with artistic pretensions? Betty Boop red and black polka dots (Dita von Teese).

Ageing supermodel/rock chick on a night out? Asymmetric black (Kate Moss).

As for Nancy Dell’Olio, her dress sense is always so ludicrously over the top she probably wears the stuff to pop to the shops.

Kardashian I can just about understand, since it gives her even more the appearance of a blow-up doll than normal.

Since her ultimate aim seems to become a global sex toy, it makes some sort of sense.

But Moss is a woman who makes a living out of being skinny — or at least she did until she stepped out looking like a wet baby hippo at Sir David Tang’s glitzy 60th birthday party in London this week.

The only logical explanation is that this trend for latex is another one of fashion’s perverse in-jokes at the expense of ordinary, curvy women.

Not content with giving us the crop top and the naval-grazing neckline, it seems they’re now trying to get us to dress like hookers — and like it.

How else do you explain the sudden proliferation of rubber-clad celebrities?

We’ve had stripper heels; now it’s the turn of bondage chic. And, as usual, anyone who, either for reasons of propriety or because they don’t live on dust and thrice-daily kettlebell workouts, won’t or can’t do the school run in a glorified bin bag will be made to feel like a fat, frigid frump.

'Ageing supermodel/rock chick on a night out? Opt for asymmetric black  like Kate Moss .As for Nancy Dell’Olio her dress sense is so over the top she probably wears the stuff to pop to the shops

If they do bow to the pressure and wrestle their way into one of these creations, they’ll just end up looking ridiculous, like poor old Sarah Ferguson.

It’s one thing being a pert twenty something in black leather and latex; quite another an ageing former princess with a complexion the colour of a frozen sausage.

What’s even more annoying about this fashion whim is that, unlike most womenswear trends which seem to either pass the male of the species by or leave him utterly baffled (gladiator flats, I seem to recall, caused the most consternation in my household), ladies in very tight dresses is one fashion diktat they’re quite likely to embrace.

So men, take it from me: unless your beloved has a stated penchant for rubber, don’t be fooled into thinking that she’ll be anything other than utterly horrified if, on Christmas morning, she opens her present to discover not the handbag she’d so clearly been hinting at since September, but a bright-red latex frock.

Short of buying her a pair of new washing-up gloves, you couldn’t make yourself more unpopular.

You have been warned.


Latex, PVC, wet-look leather. It’s all the rage on celebrities and supermodels at the moment, but can a mere mortal carry off this latest trend? I’ve been tasked to find out.

As a 42-year-old mother-of-three, the thought of squeezing myself into frocks made of such unforgiving fabrics terrifies me. After all, it makes even Kate Moss seem bulgy.

My nerves aren’t helped by the strict instructions that come with the dresses. I must remove all sharp jewellery (presumably to avoid ripping the material), while ‘generously’ sprinkling the inside of each garment with talc or Vividress before I put it on.

Vividress, it turns out, is a latex ‘dressing aid’ that helps you ‘glide into your rubber gear’. Well, here goes . . . ANNABEL COLE


Silver blue dress, Breathless, £275

This smells like a rubber band, and I’m not sure I should be out in it as a married woman.

It’s rather Eighties, a bit Dynasty, and again allows not the slightest hint of underwear.

This is a dress that does exactly what you’d expect of a PVC garment — it reveals everything without being the slightest bit flattering.

I can’t say I could wear this as anything other than a joke.


Black dress with bow, William Wilde, £255

More than a step too far. It’s too revealing, and so shiny I feel desperately self-conscious.

It picks up dust, too. It makes a sucking sound as I put it on, and feels like I’m wearing a surgical glove.

The bow flops like a dead fish — it’s very costume-like, which is only to be expected from William Wilde, who has made stage-wear for Kylie Minogue.

I feel like I’m inside a balloon

Red dress, Kim West, £240

this sucks in excess midriff — it’s like wearing a giant pair of Spanx.

At first it feels like I’m stepping into a balloon and it takes a few minutes of pushing and pulling to get everything in place.

However, once on the high neck saves it from being too tacky and it’s the only dress I don’t mind.

This just screams 'cheap'

Julien Macdonald at Debenhams, £42; top, £95, Reiss

This wet-look fabric is lined, which means you get the shiny effect without the cling — and it’s a bit easier to get into.

The overall look is a weird combination of trashy and sedate, but I wouldn’t want to wear it in the office.

It screams ‘cheap’. On the positive side, it’s wipe-clean, so good for busy mums.

Two people had to zip me up

Sleeveless dress, Kim West, £140

This is so tight it takes two people to cram me in and do up the zip.

I feel like a cross between a stripper and a wannabe Towie extra.

If I ever went out in this, I’d need a companion to whisper in my ear if the strategically positioned black stripes were failing to cover the right bits.