Tom of Finland, the cult of Leather

19th May 2022, 6:16 pm


Skira has published a volume dedicated to the drawings of the master of homoerotic art Tom of Finland who made the gay leather aesthetic iconic, transforming it into a pop language


TOM OF FINLAND Untitled, 1977, Graphite on paper, © Tom of Finland Foundation


In the history of fetish fashion there have been two fundamental junctions: the first between 1870 and 1900 when Victorian society went crazy for silk and velvet which were highly eroticized, the second peak undoubtedly took place about a century later, between 1970 and 2000, with the riot of the skin. Yet, in the Queer scene, the infatuation with this material was already prevalent in the 1950s. Today, leather fetish clothing is worn by men at sex clubs, parties, Gay Pride and dating, but many have begun to sneak leather accessories into their everyday wardrobe.

Although fetish clothing is no longer a unique expression of the Queer world, there is a widely recognized parallel between the increased visibility of Gay and Lesbian identities and superficial fetishes in contemporary culture, transforming something that was initially the prerogative of sexual activities limited to the scene, later seen more extensively in popular culture or in any case transcended by luminaries. After all, the skin reveals something primordial, a primitive, animal protection and also adds weight to the body: the opposite of something light, diaphanous and feminine.

The whole of fashion, starting from the big brands to fast-fashion, has for some time vampirized the codes of the imaginary leather that originally belonged to the homosexual community, still returning it today in outfits that are paraded in practically all the great menswear brands.

Glenn Martens, creative director of Diesel was particularly inspired by the artistic legacy of Tom of Finland for the Fall Winter 2022 season, and the brand supported the interesting AllTogether project, a series of exhibitions curated by Tom of Finland Foundation and The Community that debuted at Studio Cannaregio in Venice during the opening of the Biennale, showing works of art and photographs that document the inestimable contribution that queer art by artists such as Tom of Finland has helped to create the codes of the contemporary, transformed the fetish for the skin more than a trend, into a lifestyle.



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Touko & Tom | 28th January | Berlin

Loves and Lives Tom of Finland is a Gay icon. His drawings of well-built men in rugged attire, and depictions of man-to-man lust, shaped a strong image of Gay identity. He drew males having sex without shame, proud and full of confidence. Tom of Finland is the artist name of Finnish Touko Laaksonen (1920, Kaarina… View Article
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About the Exhibition Artists Venice Paris Catalogue Press About the Exhibition On the occasion of Tom of Finland’s birthday (8th May), Tom of Finland Foundation and The Community have curated a group exhibition, supported by Diesel, presenting Tom of Finland Foundation’s permanent collection. AllTogether explores the erotic art collection consisting of thousands of artworks, spanning… View Article
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Published: 19th May 2022

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