Don’t be frightened.
Just feel the leathers, embrace the whips, dog collars and bondage attire and most certainly keep an open mind.
That’s because Noir Leather (which means ‘black’ in French) in downtown Royal Oak has all that, plus unisex clothes, jewelry, wigs, makeup, hair dye, shoes, hosiery and a fetish store hidden in the back.
“People are really excited to come in for sex toys, hosiery and shoes,” says Owner Keith Howarth of Saint Claire Shores.
At least that’s how Howarth see things…this place though, you have to see for yourself….
Why did you start Noir…I heard that it that was tied to the recession back in the '80s?
There was a heavy automotive recession here and people were talking about it -- that things were going wrong here. The government went on and on and did a big speech about it, talking about how people needed to learn new jobs and re-train, so I did. I wanted to create a job for myself that was cool. I grew up with factory workers and heard people complain about their job and how they hated it and thought, "Why can’t people do a job they love?" I thought I could do that. I went to punk shows and created a job where this is my life.
Bondage or clothing?
Half and half. It’s not one or the other. People think of it both ways, but it depends what you’re looking for.
Fetish or fashion?
A fetish fashion store for a fashion fetish.
I’m not sure whether to be scared or excited, it’s kind of intimidating here…
Some people get excited, some people look and some people start laughing because of anxiety. They may be nervous or scared, so they laugh it off. Sometimes we hear a lot of giggling.
How would you describe the shopping experience inside Noir?
An eclectic gathering of unique adornments to cloth the body. The genre is rock 'n' roll and if you want to do a music video or a stage presentation you can come here and get an outfit that’s out of the norm.
Who’s Noir geared toward then?
We have a lot of steady customers we know on a first name basis and we have people who after 25 years haven’t even heard of us, but our core group is high school to college age people for the club/bar scene -- coming-of-age kids. Beyond that, we have our whole blue collar, white collar people for fetish gear and the whole gay/lesbian clientele, too.
Okay, so what would you recommend for a first-time shopper here?
To come in with an open attitude and be adventurous. Some people come in who are wonderful and some who are trouble -- we like the open-attitude ones.
Twenty-five years now…what’s 25 years of sex, punk and rock 'n' roll mayhem feel like?
Like half my life. I’m definitely in a different place now then when I started. Then, I was rebellious and it showed throughout the years.
How are you celebrating? Maybe ring in the anniversary with some adult things...?
Ha…with a kick-ass party. There’s 12 bands, a fashion show, a fetish show and burlesque acts.
Besides the silver anniversary bash, what’s coming up next?
The Hellbound party on Oct. 18 at Club Sin. It’s tailored after something in London and everybody who comes to the party has to be in fetish attire, so it will be a nice mix of people who are like-minded.