The 1950s were an era when fetish really started to become part of fringe culture and even part of the mainstream. The seminal American film star Bettie Page brought all things fetish to the screen, and in photographs and pin-ups.
With her severe black hair and leather lingerie, Bettie in bondage was one of the most memorable fetish features of the decade. Bettie Page is still very influential today, and her image is frequently found in books about fetish.
Aside from Bettie Page, the 1950s were also a decade in which uninhibited sexuality came onto the agenda for the first time. This found its nadir in the 1960s.
Bettie Page: 50s fetish icon hitting all the right spots!
The 1970s were a decade when the wearing of leather and rubber became part of fringe culture. The punk movement meant that both men and women started wearing leather, rubber and even bondage gear.
Styles became much more extreme and people actually started to experiment with new forms of sexuality. Fetish clubs, which had previously been underground, became part of the mainstream culture.
Punk icons publicised the wearing of bondage wear. Siouxsie Sioux, of the band Siouxsie and the Banshees, took this look to the extreme. In her stage wear, she would don thigh high leather boots, leather dresses and wear extremely provocative make-up and ripped fishnets tights. This became an iconic look which was then taken on by the gothic fashion scene, as well as in fetish culture.
Siouxsie Sioux: 70s bondage babe
The 80s and 90s were when fetish fashion came of age. Musicians of many genres, and not just the goths like The Cure, began picking up what Bettie Page, Siouxsie Sioux and all the 70s punks and goths had started. Leather pants, tops, cuffs, black hair, chains, piercings and the like became relatively normal. Even the ravers and the new wave kids caught on.
The Cure: brought black fashion and make-up to 80s kids
In the current decade, fetish has truly become part of the mainstream. The impact of books such as Fifty Shades of Grey has become a global phenomenon. This popular bestseller has been read by millions of women worldwide, and has introduced many women and men to the culture and philosophy of bondage and BDSM.
As well as the Fifty Shades effect, there has also been the influence of fetish culture in popular style and fashion. Many high street retailers sell leather and rubber clothes, which are frequently seen on the street.
Aside from this, it's now possible to buy handcuffs and other bondage materials in well-known retail outlets. In many music videos, there can be found popular elements of BDSM.
In terms of visibility and acceptance, we've come a long way through the fetish decades from Bettie Page in the 1950s. However, it's still fun to dress up as a 1950s bondage kitten or a 1970s punk dominatrix. As always, fetish is always about experimentation.
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