Sexhibition 2016 - Victoria Warehouse was the Florentyna launch...and what a launch it was. The reception has been overwhelming. Here is Andy Von Pips review of what can be described as one of the most crazy weekends of my life.
Sexhibition: Victoria Warehouse, Manchester – review
Written by Andy Vonpip25 August, 2016
Sexhibition August 19th – 21st 2016 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester
You might be forgiven for thinking ‘Louder Than War’ has turned into ‘Louder Than Phwoar!!” as we venture into the world of ‘Sexhibition.’ Dubbed the UK’s biggest erotic event, ‘Sexhibition’ returned for a second year moving to bigger premises at Manchester’s labyrinthian Victoria Warehouse to meet demand after the huge success of it’s inaugural year in 2015. We sent along the extremely sensibly attired, some might say overdressed Melanie Smith and Andy Von Pip to cover the event. Here’s what they made of it – in words and pictures.
Before any of the stages had opened a mooch around the stalls at this years ‘Sexhibition’ Expo was certainly an eye-popping, mind-expanding experience and provided a taste of what might be in store for us over the weekend! We happened across a mind-blowing array of erotic wares and clothing and one question that was never far away from our lips was “what exactly do you do with THAT!?” Fetish clothing, dungeon furniture, boudoir fashion , plugs (not the electrical type we hasten to add, although whatever floats your boat, we are not here to judge ;) ) sex toys of varying shapes and sizes were displayed alongside the sort of kit we didn’t actually know existed. After being vaguely terrified by a chap in a latex mask we decided to check out the itinerary and plan the weekend ahead – we could catch a movie, go to a workshop, take in some burlesque, shoot the breeze with a strapping 6ft 3″ latex clad nun or simply relax in a bath of vividly coloured lube and enjoy an erotic book. A book such as “How To Make Your Partner Moan” which is easily achieved to be fair – just leave wet towels all over the bathroom floor and don’t clean the sink after use – simples!
Purely from a photographic point of view (which probably makes us voyeurs) it was certainly a visual feast and we were blown away by the incredible creativity and off the wall imaginations responsible for bringing many of the stunning costumes to life. Make no mistake, the outfits on display on the catwalk shows were as stylish, as beautifully made and perhaps even more ingenious as any you’d see at one of the more ‘traditional’ fashion shows.
The event was compèred by the painfully shy and reserved journalist and sex expert Alix Fox, (photo above) host of The Guardian’s ‘Close Encounters’ podcast, and an ambassador for Durex and Ann Summers. Her enthusiasm was contagious and her stamina admirable as she kept the mood upbeat with a line of patter that at times resided somewhere between ‘Cosmopolitan’ and ‘The Viz ‘( in terms of double-entendres). However, beneath the witty and engaging repartee, Alix’s work has a serious purpose as evidenced by her ‘Sex Educator of the Year’ award. Admittedly we did became somewhat inured to the constant flow of bizarre ‘wa*nk stories” Alix had been sent via social media – in fact after, a while we thought we had become somewhat shockproof … until she told … ‘the earthworm story’ – a tale far too harrowing to relate here. Ask her yourself and we’re sure she’ll repeat it with devilish pleasure as you squirm in horror! :)
The highlights for us were the incredible outfits and the overall good humour that pervaded the entire event. Even the security guards at the venue seemed in a somewhat uncharacteristically jovial mood, perhaps they were relieved that the erotic world has evolved into something rather more sophisticated and grown-up than the stereotype of blokes in grubby macs furtively sneaking into late night showings of the latest Robin Askwith movie. This was an event for anybody who is interested in fashion, glamour, art, creativity, music, dance and of course sex. The overarching message was one of inclusivity – simply put – anybody can be sexy, no matter what shape or size you are , regardless of gender, disability, race, orientation- you are in control and you can make informed choices. There was something rather empowering and non-judgemental about the whole event, where respect was shown and given and it provided a safe space where people could network , rest and play and be whoever they wanted to be. The old adage ‘Never judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes’ seemed particularly apposite at this event ( even if they did happen to be 7.5-inch stiletto heeled latex thigh high boots.)
The fashion shows really were superb and Melanie was particularly enamoured by Florentyna’s classic vintage Hollywood inspired peignoirs which oozed sophistication and style.
Florentyna told us about the inspiration for her work – “ I drew inspiration from Hollywood icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Bridget Bardot, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. My background is in theatre and film and I’ve always had a passion for performance and so wanted to reflect this in this collection and in catwalk. Inspiration also came from Christine Daae from ‘Phantom of the Opera’, the dress from ‘Interview with The Vampire’, and royalty throughout history. Others included our princess collection drawing on famous fairytales including Cinderella, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty, as well as inspiration from Minnie Mouse and 101 Dalmatians. And of course, our Marilyn Monroe negligee and peignoir, the peignoir being inspired from her dress in ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.‘”
The latex catwalk shows were stunning, inventive and occasionally bizarre with Yummy Gummy Latex winning ‘Latex designer of the year’ proving beyond all doubt that “shiny thing make it all better.” Other fashion shows where themed around gothic fairy tales, vintage pin-ups, classic movies – there were fire-eaters, sword swallowing, knife and Celtic axe throwing from husband and wife team Charlie and Rachel Atlas performing their internationally renowned’ The Death Do Us Part Danger Show’ whilst Cabaret of Sin fused a combination of street dancing, acrobatics with thrusting, hip swivelling moves that would have made Prince (R.I.P.) blush and in the process steamed up our camera lenses whilst probably doing very little to help halt global warming.