Bringing out the gimp: fashioning the SM imaginary

Needham, G., 2014. Bringing out the gimp: fashioning the SM imaginary. Fashion Theory, 18 (2), pp. 149-168. ISSN 1362-704X

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The intention of this article is to investigate the cultural power associated with the gimp and the gimp mask. The gimp is a clothed or costumed SM body, frequently a submissive that often wears a leather or rubber costume that covers and effectuates the entire body including the face. The gimp is also a representation of SM that circulates throughout fashion and film and other forms of popular culture. Since the gimp’s first outing and naming in the film Pulp Fiction it has become the byword for the head-to-toe leather SM look that has been appropriated by a number of designers as way of exploring and exploiting the relationship between fashion, fetishism, and transgression. As a counterpoint to the popular image of SM in fashion and film, this article also explores how the artists Catherine Opie and Robert Mapplethorpe have represented the gimp, not as an index of horror or transgressive style rather as an affirmative image of their own SM communities that, while still intended to shock, is an defiant attempt to rescue or reclaim the gimp from its negative associations.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Fashion Theory
Creators: Needham, G.
Publisher: Routledge
Date: 2014
Volume: 18
Number: 2
ISSN: 1362-704X
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 17 Nov 2015 09:36
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2017 03:00

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