Take the reins: Russia’s bondage-inspired fashion brands

Take the reins: Russia’s bondage-inspired fashion brands

From leather harnesses to barely-there corsets, these Russian designers are taking a walk on the wild side

22 April 2014

Once the domain of dungeon-dwelling dominatrices, bondage-themed style has entered the mainstream, popularised by 50 Shades of Grey, Lady Gaga’s You and I video and a myriad of other sources. While labels such as Fleet Ilya are relative veterans in the field (they launched in 2008), a new wave of Russian designers has now embraced the racier side of fashion. From the subtle bondage undertones of Alina Muha to Leonid Titow’s more outrageous gimp masks, the only question to ask is how brave are you feeling?

Asya Malbershtein

St Petersburg designer Asya Malbershtein has been making functional yet stylish leather bags, backpacks and clutches since 2008 but it’s her bondage-inspired range of leather accessories that’ll get your heart racing. Her leather suspenders, dog collars and leads, harnesses and cuffs, though risque, are just as utilitarian as her backpacks with the option to attach small purses to many of her accessories. “The main questions customers ask are about how to wear these accessories,” says Malbershtein. “They tend to wonder if these types of pieces are too outrageous for them. Obviously you have to be brave to wear this kind of thing. My favourite is the waist-belt with the tassels. It’s probably my most complex piece.”


Fleet Ilya

Fleet Ilya’s barely-there corsets and leather animal masks are not for the faint-hearted. The London-based label produces meticulously crafted, high-end bondage leather accessories that include all-over body harnesses, suspenders, paddles, gags, reins and more. Created by Russian-born designer —and trained saddle-maker — Ilya Fleet and his creative partner and wife Resha Sharma, the label brings together strong architectural design and high-quality leather to produce luxury bondage gear with a touch of equestrian flair.


Leonid Titow

Leonid Titow’s theatrical attire plays with different textures — leather, metal, velvet, fur — to create an idiosyncratic style that wouldn’t be out of place in a futuristic, dystopian film. Think Mad Max in the 21st century and you’re almost there. Last year’s menswear collection comprised studded masks and Batman-style leather capes, while his women’s range included a dress made of synthetic porcupine needles and another covered with silver scales. Titow’s speciality though is his gimp masks, which are invariably embedded with spikes or metal plates. “I produce garments that are stylistically pretty different,” says Titow. “I try not to limit myself or set boundaries.”


Alina Muha

Despite her penchant for leather harnesses, St Petersburg native Alina Muha softens the overall tone of her collections by pairing them with sheer silk dresses in white, lilac and other pastels. Even her maroon and black dresses are made more feminine by the translucence of the fabric and by harnesses that cinch at the waist for that hour-glass look. Her collections nevertheless exude the right amount of austerity, a necessity for all good bondage-inspired fashion labels.

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