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Rapture and Repent* immediately caught my eye for its darkly original, fetish-inspired designs. I first discovered this Toronto-based brand on Instagram, where they have a steadily growing presence.
The designer behind Rapture and Repent, Monika Cibulskis, first started selling lingerie and accessories while studying fashion at Ryerson University in Canada. By 2017, while designing her final collection to finish school, she settled on the name Rapture and Repent, and began to create the store we see today. Currently, Cibulskis runs the brand single-handedly from her home office, and does everything from sourcing fabrics to designing and sewing each piece, to social media and marketing.
Cibulskis envisioned a collection inspired by the seven deadly sins. Rapture and Repent delivers on that promise, with sleek, dark fabrics and eerie patterns. Religious imagery plays a central role, from the crucifixes on the Zepar* and Magdalena* chokers, to the halo crown used in the Rosier Cut-Out Bra* and Asmodeus Neck Corset* images. Additionally, the metal chains on the Salamandrine Thigh Garters* and Chain Leash* bring to mind the Biblical concept of ‘chains of darkness’ that trap people in Hell.
The biggest standouts from Rapture and Repent are the Samael Bodysuit*, Saleos Bralette*, and Saleos Thong*. These styles feature elastic with garter closures, which adds a unique look to these pieces. For a collection that aims to be irreverent -questioning religion, and with it the status quo – this adds a layer of cheekiness to the designs. If you thought garter straps were just for garters, Rapture and Repent asks you to think again.
I had the opportunity to talk to Cibulskis about her inspiration, her brand, and some of the challenges she faces as an independent designer.
From funding to bookkeeping, many designers struggle to get their company off the ground. This is particularly true for people who, like you, began your brand while still in school. What has been the most difficult thing about getting Rapture and Repent up and running?
For me, it was getting the funds and time to create samples and advertise while also working another job as a visual merchandiser on the side. That’s the challenge of starting a small business: working very hard every day to turn your passion into your full-time job. I hope one day Rapture and Repent will grow enough to become my full-time gig.
What drew you to incorporate religious and satanic imagery into your designs?
My draw to religious iconography and creepy satanic imagery honestly began in my youth, as I attended Catholic high school, and it had this sexy feeling of rebellion to it. I’ve always thought gorgeous Madonna art with the glowing halos had such a stunning, eerie feeling to them. I remember taking a trip to Lithuania, where my mother was born, to the “Hill of Crosses” and finding the cluster of crosses so visually appealing. This interest easily translated into lingerie design encompassing these feelings.
From leather to metal to PVC, you use a range of fabrics in your pieces. What has been your favorite material to work with? Have any of them been particularly challenging to use?
Lately, I have been loving working with mesh and elastic, as you can see on my newest piece, the Samael Bodysuit. Mainstream lingerie companies always use really cheap feeling mesh and elastic. The mesh I use has some substance to it, where it feels like it won’t rip in a few wears.
I’m a fan of a wider elastic, it sits on the skin well and doesn’t cut in like very thin elastic often does. And of course, I am a sucker for metal hardware. The more, the better.
The most challenging to work with is likely the PVC I use for the Guaricana Bra* & Garter Set*. As it’s so rigid, creating different shapes with it is a challenge. But it’s worth it, because it can make some very interesting shapes.
What has been the greatest challenge of running a small business? The greatest reward?
The greatest challenge of running my own small business is growing the brand large enough to make this my full-time job. It’s very difficult for small brands to market their product to a large audience, and that’s why lingerie bloggers are such amazing supporters!
The greatest reward is that feeling any time someone purchases from you, any time you get a great review from a customer, when a customer sends you a gorgeous photo of them wearing your creation. It’s an amazing feeling to know people love and support your designs.
Other than Rapture and Repent, what lingerie brands would we find in your boudoir?
Playful Promises, random pieces from the lovely Gigi’s Frills (a Toronto-based vintage lingerie store), a few latex pieces from Kink Engineering (a Toronto-based latex company), latex pieces from Lovehoney, “Jet” by Agent Provocateur, and way too many pairs of Pleaser heels. The dream, when the funds are right, is to get my hands on some Bordelle and La Fille D’o.
Anything else you want people to know?
Follow Rapture and Repent on Instagram @raptureandrepent or like our Facebook page to stay up to date on new styles. As for events, I will be doing a fashion show at Salacious Fetish Event at Revival Bar in Toronto on June 12th, and I will be vending at the Peterborough Bondage Expo in Ontario on July 13th.
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