An Exclusive Look Inside Sukeban’s Miami Spectacle, Where Wrestling Meets Art
Co-founder and creative director Olympia Le-Tan walks us through her favorite avant-garde costumes.
The WWE has “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock. Sukeban, the Japanese women’s professional wrestling league, has the Atomic Banshee and Lady Antoinette.
Named after the merciless school-girl gangs that emerged in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Sukeban thins the walls between the worlds of art and wrestling. This idiosyncratic combination of WWE theatrics, fashion, anime, and music was evident when we attended the Miami fight on Dec. 13, right in the middle of Art Basel. The six bouts each highlighted two women in avant-garde fits: latex harlequin costumes; a cheeky riff on the Japanese schoolgirl’s sailor fuku; a matted, ice blue Marie Antoinette-inspired wig.
While most art-world events take place in sleek galleries or glitzy penthouses, Sukeban opted for a different locale: a skatepark under a freeway in downtown Miami. “When we visited the space we immediately thought it should feel like a street fight, raw and grimy,” Olympia Le-Tan, co-founder and creative director of Sukeban, tells NYLON. Le-Tan, who has roots in fashion, designed each costume, bringing a sense of punk individuality and attitude to the looks through homages to Vivienne Westwood and her own work, as well as minute craftsmanship details. “There's a show, lights, music, an amazingly talented cast,” she says. “My job is to make them look great, then they go out there, into the lights, that's when it gets very different, but at that point my job is done.”
Ahead, Le-Tan takes NYLON behind her favorite Sukeban looks, featuring exclusive photos by Rachel Miller.
“A clown in latex bloomers is a rather unexpected look for a wrestler, but I love it. This was made by an incredibly talented UK designer called Softskin Latex. We met through Instagram and she worked on several looks for the league. Her work is so delicate and refined, it's amazing to think it's all rubber.”
“It was easy to come up with a look for Atomic Banshee as she is such a punk even when out of character. We’re both huge Vivienne Westwood fans, so this look was an homage to our grande dame. The buttons on the bodysuit are all hand-embroidered with tiny details because Atomic Banshee had told me she couldn't wrestle with the buttons we had originally pinned on. I love this kind of hidden detail. She's also wearing some amazing Stephen Jones latex horns.”
“Midnight Player's look was inspired by the Japanese bozozuku biker gangs. But what I love the most about her is her attitude and her pink hair. She would look great in anything.”
“Another look made by Softskin Latex. The work on the corset is amazing. I love how this super-tough wrestler is wearing a pastel pink dress with puff sleeves. I also love how she rips off her 18th-century Stephen Jones wig and throws it on the floor before entering the ring.”
“A true Harajuku star. This look was inspired by something I designed for Kiko Mizuhara many years ago and made by another amazing latex designer, Dawnamatrix, who had made [Mizuhara’s] look. We added names and logos in appliqué as a nod to the Sukeban uniforms of the ‘70s.”
“Sareee is new to the [Sukeban team] Cherry Bomb Girls. Half cheerleader, half ‘90s R&B star. I love how she sparkles in the ring with her rhinestone-covered jacket.”
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