Sex! Sex! Sex! The conversations around this most provocative of subjects have become ever-more cautious in recent months out of fear of crossing the wary lines drawn up in response to the #MeToo movement.
But for New York-based, French-born designer Joseph Altuzurra, 36, being afraid to talk about sex is not the right response to the current insecurities rippling through society.
In conversation at 5 Carlos Place, MatchesFashion’s multifunctional space in London, he says: “Sex is part of our lives, it’s part of how we connect with each other. Women are sexual people, and so are men. It’s an amazing time to have a conversation and communicate and have a respectful way of looking at it.”
Sex appeal has always been part of the Altuzarra’s own design signature. Time and time again, his brand has found strength in sensuality for women. Check out his 10th anniversary capsule collection, released in January, with its archival pieces and iterations of empowered sensuality. There’s also a practical sophistication to the trans-seasonal outerwear, tops, bottoms, and dresses.
His new hobo bag, named Play, enjoys the same dual game play. Seductive yet classy, its playfulness can be either innocent or naughty. Rows of bondage-like buckles and soft leather straps beckon experimentation. And there’s a functional versatility about the bag, adjustable to be worn across the body, on your shoulder or in your hand.
On the spirit of the bag, Altuzurra says, “There are parts of everyone’s personalities that are public and private and I really wanted to capture that in this bag. It could be equestrian and feel kind of uptown, or bondage and feel kind of naughty.”
Altuzarra cites provocative 20th century photographer Robert Mapplethorpe as inspiration, evident both in the explorations of sexuality and desire in the photographer’s portraits, reflected in the Play bag and his Fall 2019 collection. Exploring private desires within the public persona, Altuzurra offers choices with his take on femininity. Choices for women to decide themselves how they want to make a bag their own – the flexible usage of the bag reflects the fluid, different sides that make up our identities.