Beautiful, talented, and wickedly and enjoyably eccentric, Rebecca Allsop’s a fun lady to talk to. As owner of Yummy Gummy Latex, Rebecca’s days are spent working on new designs and experimenting with a wonderful world of multi-coloured latex.
Rebecca took some time off to talk to MG about not only the story behind Yummy Gummy, but also Lady Gaga, double bottoms, and the perils of rubber knickers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Rebecca Allsop.
Hi, Rebecca, how are you? What have you been up to today?
I’m good thanks! I’m trying to make a full length trench coat and it’s doing my head in! You wouldn’t believe how much of a pain in the arse it’s been. I was going for a really nice 1940s/50s cut, which I’ve not seen before in trench coats. I thought I’d buy a pattern off eBay and it turned out to be a size 38 inch bust and I’m a size 33 inch bust, so it’s enormous! I’ve had to scale it down massively and I’m not actually putting together what was designed, I’m putting together something I’ve made it up along the way. But if I get it right it’s going to look fabulous.
So how did you first become involved with making latex clothing, and how did Yummy Gummy start?
I was taught how to work with latex by someone who used to make sheet latex and bits and pieces for Ann Summers like latex body paints. He’s a bondage photographer and he booked me for a shoot and I saw he had all these pots of colourful liquid and I thought ‘oh these are interesting’.
We got to know each other and we did quite a few shoots in the end. After that he asked if I wanted to know how to make sheet latex, and I was like oh yeah, because then I can make my own pair of knickers. By this time I’d done a bit of research and latex is horrendously expensive when you’re not used to it. You’re like, how much for a pair of pants? So I thought this is good, I can make my own pair of knickers and start wearing latex and that would be fun.
So I bought the rest of his latex and I started to make sheets of latex on my kitchen table, as all businesses start, on the kitchen table. I got it so wrong the first time. I thought it would be a really good idea to put cling film on our marble table and make it on that. That’s how it worked! It was just a mess. But eventually it worked out.
I took some sheets to the BBB (Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar) just in case there happened to be a latex designer that might be interesting in buying them. At first I ignored Latex 101, who I now work with really closely, because I thought they’re far too big to be interested in me. So I went upstairs to where Susey Phoenixx has a stand. She loved it and she was really interested in it. And she showed Latex 101 and then I got a message from them saying they were interested as well.
I was told by the person who taught me how to make it that no one does what he used to do and what I can now do, and after doing some research it’s like, ‘oh, nobody really does’.
How do you come up with your colourful ideas?
I do a lot of making it up as I go along. That’s how I tend to make up some of my techniques. Or I see a picture of something and I think, ‘oh let’s see if I can do that in latex’.
Sometimes ideas just go ping! ‘Dalmatian latex, why haven’t I done this yet!?’ That’s easy because you just make a white sheet and splatter black all over it.
You know as a kid when you get a piece of paper and you put paint on one half and you squash it and you make a butterfly? I can’t remember what sparked that idea, but I thought, ‘oh I could do that with a sheet of latex! Genius! Why didn’t I think of that before’. So I’ve just made a dress out of that so it’s white with pink and purple and blue splodges all over it. It looks pretty cool. It was fun.
How long does it take to make some of your designs such as the blue peacock dress?
That one took three people to make it! I had to get the feathers in before it dried. Not before it dried completely, but before it got a skin on it. I tried doing it on my own and I could only do a quarter of a sheet and I needed a half sheet of it and it looked good but the other half looked horrendous because it took me an hour to do that much that by the time I’d moved over and done the other half of the half I was doing, it had already got a skin on it and it had gone wrong. So I had to rope in my sister and her ex to help me make peacock feathers.
I had this idea and it was going to be amazing and I had to do it because I like showing off. And I like pushing the boundaries of what people think is possible.
Your work is very accessible. Is there a conscious decision to appeal to people who wouldn’t normally wear latex?
Yes. With the whole gap in the market, I can appeal to people. I get double takes all the time as people don’t realise I’m wearing latex or they don’t realise it’s latex until they touch it and go ‘oh this isn’t fabric!’ I do London Edge, the alternative clothing market, hoping to get a few more wholesale customers. I say ‘look you can wear it half and half’. You can wear a latex pencil skirt with a nice top and that works really well. And it doesn’t come across as overly fetish, it just looks fashionable and funky.
How competitive is it amongst clothing designers? Or is it actually a supportive and encouraging community?
Depends what people do! I’m really lucky because I sell to everyone. Some may not like it that I do clothing, but I do it in a different way to other designers. I don’t do custom, only ready to wear. So I don’t compete with designers in that sense. I also have set colours for my clothing range so they can pick something that’s completely different and they can buy things from me to enhance their own collection. I compete as well as help.
If Latex 101 hadn’t liked my product then I wouldn’t have been at the BBB, because the first stall I did went horrendously wrong because the model didn’t turn up and she had a load of the clothing with her that the designer I was collaborating with at the time had given her. She literally dropped off the face of the earth on the morning of the market!
I turned up with some sheets of latex and a banner and some bows and that was it. Oh, and a mannequin with a pair of knickers on. No market’s going to want that coming there, but 101 said the model had disappeared and that’s not what the stall is meant to look like and there is meant to be more clothing for people to buy. So if they hadn’t pulled their weight and said, ‘we want her here’, I wouldn’t be there. It’s nice to know that people are looking out.
How did it feel to win best start up company at European Fetish Awards?
It was a complete and utter surprise! We were just getting to the last day of the German Fetish Fair and thinking about packing down. And then the guy who runs it came over and said, ‘oh, by the way, you’ve just won best international start up company at the European Fetish awards’. And I thought, ‘sorry, what?’ ‘Oh and by the way you’ve got to be at the ball by eleven o’clock tonight’.
I didn’t know at the time how we were going to make it. We turned up literally five minutes before we went on stage because we were going to help 101 pack down because they take all my things. But I had to go back to the hotel and shower and change and everything.
It was a bit embarrassing because I didn’t realise that words were required from me! They pointed a microphone at me and the last thing the host said was thank you, so all I ended up saying was ‘thank you!’
What designs are you working on right now?
I’m working on a special dress – a clear dress covered in flowers inspired by Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty flower dress. I love his work – all of it had so much presence. I think that’s where I’ve got the inspiration for the collection and attitude I want to portray. He wanted his women to be fierce and the kind of women you’d respect and also slightly fear. Which is why I want that big beat and sexy shapes and figure hugging, well fitted designs, that enhance the female figure, and accentuates what needs to be accentuated. I spend a lot of time trying to get the bottom on my skirts and dresses exactly right.
So the bottom is one of the hardest bits to work on?
A lot of people don’t pay any attention to the bottom and they won’t put seams in their skirts to give that round peachy bum. It looks nice, but at the end it squashes it and doesn’t allow it to have the shape and its full potential of roundness, which the bottom should have. If it’s put in the right garment you can make any bottom rounder and not flattened.
Everyone loves a good shiny latex bum. And not enough people pay attention to a big shiny latex bum. But I do!
Oh, and pants as well. People never get pants right. If they go across the bottom, people don’t allow for bottom space and it just cuts your arse in half and you don’t want double bum! It’s not a good look and it’s not sexy. I have put a leotard on before and literally my arse was cut in half across the middle. It was awful.
Finally, if you could make an outfit for anyone past or present who would you choose?
Lady Gaga! I want her more than anyone. If it was past, then maybe Freddie Mercury, because I think he’d rock a latex jacket. But Lady Gaga is the pinnacle of latex fashion. If you can get it on her, you can say you’ve made it. I want to get my latex on Lady Gaga, Ulorin Vex and maybe Ophelia Overdose. And I’ve got it on Ulorin and I’m talking with Ophelia. So Lady Gaga’s the next on the list. She is the one.
You can see more of Rebecca’s work at Yummy Gummy Latex.