News Toronto

What's your fetish?

By Jane Stevenson, Postmedia Network

Models pose as they walk in the 2008 Xpose Fetish Fashion Show. Northbound Leather in-house designer Marty Rotman described the scene as a 1980s tribute, with the apparel showing offa Punky Zip Collection. (Supplied By Northbound Leather)

Models pose as they walk in the 2008 Xpose Fetish Fashion Show. Northbound Leather in-house designer Marty Rotman described the scene as a 1980s tribute, with the apparel showing offa Punky Zip Collection. (Supplied By Northbound Leather)

Creepy clowns are out of Halloween fashion this year at retailers like Canadian Tire and Target after public sightings over the past few months have frightened children.

But in the very adult world of the Northbound Leather Fetish Fashion Show at The Phoenix on Saturday night (Oct. 22), star Midori, the Japanese-American bondage artist, will be working that look.

"The zeitgeist is unbelievable [in terms of] what's going on - it is [just] a clown outfit," said Northbound Leather in-house designer Marty Rotman who returned to the company in August after a five-year brea.

Midori, the Japanese-American bondage artist, will be working her clown fetish look during this years Northbound Leather Fetish Fashion Show. in August after a five-year break. "And [Midori's] whole [clown] character [version] is off-putting so nothing is symmetrical. The character - it's unsettling. It's annoying. It's a scary fetish clown. She calls it The White Clown."

Not only that but Rotman has worked up quite the fashion show finale.

"I'm doing scary clowns at the ending," he said. "I knew [scary clowns] were in the background because [Midori] did clowns a couple of years ago that's what she wanted.

And I had done it a couple of years ago and we are incorporating that into the last scene, which is extreme. We are going from fully-clothed to minimally clothed. Classy to trashy, swanky to skanky."

We caught up with Rotman hard at work crafting this year's fashion show outfits on the second floor of Northbound's legendary St. Nicholas Street store owned by George Giaouris.

You're celebrating Northbound's 30th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of the fashion show itself. What does the Triple X theme mean?

Triple X meaning 30 and Triple X meaning extreme. At the end of the show, I want to challenge people to not know how to react to what they're seeing. That they shouldn't know. [For example, take the clowns] ... whether they should be laughing or they should be offended by what they're doing. 'I don't know whether to laugh or be nervous. I don't know how to react to this.' It's awful [what's happening in the real world with scary clown sightings.] And I think a lot of adults are frightened by it too and I want to tap into that. I like to be a s---disturber and get a reaction out of people.

Does the fashion show's milestone put pressure on you to up the ante this year?

One would like to think it should. For me, the challenge has been coming back with very short notice. Usually prep for this show would take me a quarter to a third of a year. And that's not the case here. I wouldn't say I earnestly started until September. About two months, let's say, which is far less than usual.

What can you say about the actual fashion that you like to keep a secret until its unveiling Saturday?

It's the full gamut. People don't know that we have regular fashion. Because the other stuff garners so much attention all the time and it's taboo, it gets more press, but we also have regular outerwear and more fashionable pieces.

How many outfits are you in charge of?

I am making for sure one new outfit for each model of which there are 18 - plus, we have Midori.

How did Midori become involved?

She's been in two of our previous shows. We started this [year's outfit] a couple of years ago, probably April 2014.

And what happens after the fashion show?

There's a dungeon setup in the parlour there for people to do their thing and then there's a dance party. I have to say it's pretty liberating. All walks of life, all ages, gender, sexual preferences, and it happens without incident. Everybody respects everybody else.

How anticipated is the fashion show every year?

At one time, we were the single largest fetish night in the world probably before 2001. In the 2000s, we were getting 3,000 people attending it at The Docks. At the Phoenix Concert Theatre now? I'm going to say has a 1,200 capacity. And if we can fill that, that'd be great.

Why did it become less popular?

I think it's not as in vogue as it was. It was a big fad. Then when it wasn't, people moved on. It had its hot moment - and it has had its peak. It may come again. This is not particularly a peak period of time. And [projects] like 50 Shades of Grey peak their interest again. But there is always going to be that core group who are [interested]. Hopefully, we can attract a few new people.