“If every person could put the work in to understand their personal relationship with gender and then deconstruct it then this positive energy would spread out into the world.”
Why latex and what does it mean for the queer community? Michelle explains: “Latex holds a remarkable power to enable you to engage with your body in a completely new way. It hugs to your skin like a corset, allowing you to shape and mould your body to your desired form. Yet, at the same time, it is soft and moves with your body, sliding against your skin, heating and cooling you, offering a sensual escapism from your physical day to day reality,” they say.
“The entire experience of wearing latex is one of complete transcendence. When you wear latex, you experience your body both visually and physically different than ever before, you become the fantasy you desire. Thus, latex becomes a chameleon armour for queer and fluid expression.”
Lupae, in particular, puts queer messages, models and representation to the forefront, using a lot of trans models in their photoshoots and runways. When discussing their greatest moment of visibility, Michelle responds: “When I asked Grace Oni Smith to be the face of Lupae and the first model for my product images it was an obvious choice for me as she is one of the most beautiful and charismatic people I know,” Michelle responds.
“After the shoot she expressed to me how affirming it felt as a trans woman to be put centre stage by a brand and I only then truly realised the importance of visibility and normalising queer and trans bodies.”
As for the inspiration for Lupae, its very foundations are queer. Michelle describes what “lupae” actually means. “I studied Roman History in university and specialised in Roman female sexuality. Lupae is a Latin word that translates to ‘she-wolves’, which was also used colloquially as a slur to call a woman ‘vile’, ‘nasty’ or ‘overly sexual’,” they say. “I find the image of this fierce, independent group of people that sat on the edge of mainstream society reflected in our queer community today.”
It comes down to the essential necessity of queer visibility and representation yet again. Michelle conveys: “Visibility and representation means to me the ability to see yourself reflected in a world of like minded and embracing others.” This is the true meaning of our Visible Love 2022 exhibition, to see ourselves, queer and intersectional reflected all over Europe.