“We’ve done so much with punk culture,” Eddie Borgo said in New York this week. “I wanted to do something outside of that.” Inspiration came by way of a particular friend—one who just happens to make leather harnesses, latex masks, and gear for bondage enthusiasts. And while that scene isn’t one that Borgo says appeals to him personally, professionally it’s proven to be a fertile inspiration.
He’s not the only one who’s gone to the manacled well. Provocateurs have long had a history of using the tropes of bondage in their work, from Mapplethorpe through Madonna. (The punks, too, it should be said, borrowed liberally from bondage culture.) But it’s Madonna’s famous Sex book in particular—art-directed by Fabien Baron, and with images of the Material Girl by Steven Meisel—was Borgo’s particular jumping-off point. “With Fabien, [Madonna] pulled that sexual subculture into the mainstream,” he said, adding that it was at about the time of the book’s publishing that her raunchy “Justify My Love” video was famously banned from MTV.
While the punk elements aren’t gone from the collection, they’re now keeping company with pieces like restraint-inspired cuffs and a recurrent padlock motif. But despite its after-hours inspiration, the new direction is proving more salable than ever before. The Spring range has even come early to an important new retailer—Net-a-Porter, which has just begun carrying the line. (The D-ring cuff, above, is $225; the Bullet cuff, below, has already sold out.) “This collection is the most severe in its concept, but it’s come across as the most feminine,” Borgo explained. “For me, that’s a total succes