Rubber clothing?s appeal -- Madonna, Pamela Anderson, and Naomi Campbell find the stretchy fabric a perfect fit

By Maria Ricapito
Updated July 21, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Rubber clothing?s appeal

Was it your mother who always said ”Don’t forget your rubbers” — or was that Dr. Ruth? Either way, entertainment types are turning that advice into a dare by wearing rubber raiment that hugs even the most dangerous curve. Witness Madonna slithering in the stuff in her video ”Human Nature” and Pamela Anderson encased in red rubber. Designer Andy Wilkes, who has vulcanized Margaret Cho and Cindy Crawford at his L.A. store Syren, attributes the allure to rubber’s futuristic feel. ”We’re looking for how we’ll look in 1999,” he says. ”You’re covered up, but you’re showing [everything]. That’s a power trip for some people.”

Power people understand: Couture designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Thierry Mugler are laying rubber on their runways; Batman Forever has the sculpted suits of Val Kilmer and Chris O’Donnell; and Bruce Willis gets the skintight treatment in director Terry Gilliam’s futuristic thriller Twelve Monkeys, due this Christmas.

”It’s rubber’s nature to protect,” says Monkeys costume designer Julie Weiss, ”but I tried to turn it into something erotic, intriguing.”

”It’s a very sensual fabric,” agrees Arjan Khiani, owner of Body Worship, a Manhattan boutique where Heather Locklear, Linda Evangelista, and Naomi Campbell found the stretchy styles a perfect fit. ”It takes two people to get it on and off. There’s lots of powder involved. Or you can put it on in the shower.”

One caveat: Rubber is not to be confused with vinyl. Khiani, who had Madonna also wearing black vinyl for ”Human Nature,” explains the difference: ”With rubber you sweat,” he says. ”With vinyl you don’t.” See, rubber really is hot.