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Black Tape Project: How duct tape became (probably NSFW) high fashion

From wrapping a model up in tape so that “she looked like two Christmas hams wrapped in rubber bands” to the catwalk of Miami, Joel Alvarez has had a hell of a ride over the past decade.

The first-generation Cuban American, who is based in Miami, is the creator of the Black Tape Project – an idea that spawned from simply wanting to keep a model happy, which has seen him work with Michael Bay, Rick Ross, Carl Cox and Afrojack.

In 2008, the young photographer was finishing a shoot when the model suggested he use tape for the final few photos.

“I truly had no idea why she would want this but I tried to make her happy and attempted to use tape as wardrobe,” he explains on his website.

“So I basically wrapped her in black electrical tape.”

The outcome was the aforementioned ‘Christmas hams’ look – photos Alvarez has sworn will never see the light of day – but it planted the seed of an idea.

Over the next four years, Alvarez developed the idea, inspired by the way the tape naturally complemented the body “unlike any wardrobe or fashion out there”.

@elliscooperofficial By @thekingoftape

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And, being that his initial work only used black electrical tape, the name of the project was a cinch.

He slowly built things over the next decade, working at Miami’s clubs, before he started using gold and reflective tape, which led to things really taking off for Alvarez.

But it was one particular Facebook post in 2017, while working at a charity event in Haiti with a former Miss Puerto Rico, that Black Tape Project experienced its biggest viral moment:

“I took a 15 second video of her in the gold tape with my phone and posted in my Facebook. In three days it had over 7 million views over 50k shares worldwide.”

The art work is by @blacktapeproject #BlackTapeProject #jbfoundation

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The project most recently made an appearance on the catwalks of Miami Swim Week where, well, let’s just say it appears some publications aren’t quite ready for Alvarez’s stylings.

Very huge and special thanks to someone very little of you know has had a huge impact on my career. @erikrosete of the @artheartsfashion. About 4 years ago he allowed me to collaborate in one of his infamous mrtriplex shows in LA and that was my first experience in the fashion. This year he calls me and invited me to headline his show for Miami swim week. With out a doubt this was one of those crazy fun filled weeks in my home town but if it wasn't for Eric and his team guiding me through the madness of what comes with fashion and all the hard work from every one involved. I can't thank you enough Eric and every one at the artsheartsfashion family. The show received so much buzz, models lining up to walk for me and the fans that came out to support. . . If you missed the show I did something a little different. I created 13 designs to walk but I worked on one live in the intro of the show just to give you an idea of what goes into the designs. The designed I showcased were a mixture of old and new designs. I created a few to imitate swimwear in theme of Miami swim week. The design I created live is one of the more basic designs as the ones walking took close to an hour to prepare. We finished all 13 designs just minutes prior to the show. . . #miamiswimweek #miamiswim #swimmiami #swimlife #blacktapeproject #artheartsfashion #fashionweek #miami #goldtape #blacktape.

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About the author

Joe likes to write about himself in the third person, even if he thinks it’s horribly pretentious when others do it.

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