Saturnalia is an intimate docu-film celebrating the eclectic desires and fashions of London's Fetish community. While acknowledging fashion's history of Fetish appropriation, it spotlights the creative ingenuity of Fetishists who have long cultivated and cherished kink aesthetics.
We hear from DJ and artist Parma Ham, legendary photographer Nick Knight, dominatrix Mistress Eden, fashion commentator Caryn Franklin, fashion designers Ingrid Kraftchenko and Liza Keane, iconic subculture photographer Derek Ridgers and Fetish artist Miss Meatface among many
more. Each creative, fashion industry professional and vanguard describe a continuous cycle of creative expression; where Fetishists have broken boundaries on the dance floor and fueled some of the most iconic fashion collections. They trace the explosion of Fetish club culture to the 1980s, its ascendance on the runway and future in digital and post-human fashion and subculture. Timothy Woodward, for instance, took over the first Fetish club Skin Two in the 1980s, and was the editor behind its eponymous magazine.
Alongside Features Editor Michelle Olley and Angela Murray (of the '90s Fetish fashion brand Murray and Vern), he illustrates the emergence of London's Fetish subculture in striking detail. A combination of enthralling film reels, illustration, stop motion, CGI animation and contributions from the Fetish community, Saturnalia is a tale of sublime physicality, artistic survival and LGBTQ+ solidarity.
Saturnalia revolves around club culture- the lifeblood of modern Fetishwear. Like a goldfish bowl, society's desires and taboos are concentrated in the Fetish world, and bondage gear is constantly used to draw attention from across a crowded dance floor. Nightclubs have become safe spaces for individual expression and experimentation. The chameleonic nature of kink clothing allows people to influence each other, and rediscover and nurture their identities free from social prejudice. Club culture has also witnessed the Fetishistic ingenuity of fashion trailblazers like Leigh Bowery and John Galliano, who partied at Taboo, Alexander McQueen at Torture Garden and Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood at The Rubber Ball. In Saturnalia, the creative director and stylist of SORT Zine Matt King says it best: "A lot of the time, the people on the dance floors are the fashion designers."
Rubin says: "Saturnalia aims to educate viewers on Fetish history and inspire them with the club's electric hedonism. It's my hope that creatives will take the film's message to heart and include Fetish culture and people in the creative process. Nowadays, Fetishwear transcends underground clubs; storming magazine spreads, runways and the highstreet. This is a blessing and a curse. While society grows desensitised to kinky aesthetics, their original use and culture is often lost. How many of us are aware of a corset or leather jacket's origins, and the Fetishists who found acceptance and solidarity in their fastenings? Tragically, the fashion industry tends to misconstrue and underrepresent the Fetish community. As we've seen with Balenciaga's disastrous November 2022 campaign, the misuse of Fetish can fuel prejudices that have oppressed people with alternative sexualities and genders for centuries. To combat Fetish appropriation, the film showcases the voices and opinions of Fetishists who would otherwise be ignored. It also displays the community's strict moral compass; teaching us about acceptance, consent and respect for others in intimate spaces. Simply, Saturnalia honours the sheer ingenuity, camaraderie and legacy of London's Fetish scene. It exposes a community that sorely deserves
to be celebrated for its individuality and self-expression."
Produced & directed by Raegan Rubin
Filmed by Ed Jillings
Editing and music production by Marina de Carvallo
Fashion illustrations by EJ Nègre
AI illustrations by Maritza Rubio
Stop motion animation by Jáchym Bouzek &
Isabella Josephine Leon @CrimsonProduction