Couture Kink: Doll Collection by Zalo Review
Story by Clare Hlis. Photography and Video by Beaumonde Originals.
Let’s talk whips and chains. We’re going beyond feminine lace teddies and stellar shapewear to review a new line of BDSM accessories. The team at Zalo & Upko are pushing the limits of luxury, beauty and pain in their latest Doll collection. Fasten your harnesses ladies and gentlemen—the safe word is banana.
BDSM is a beguiling temptation that designers and retailers are embracing for its bold aesthetic. This is fortunate for the lingerie industry, as it opens a plethora of opportunities to utilize new fabrics like latex and leather, and of course, for retailers to sell bedroom accessories to go with that leather corset.
Styling and shooting the Zalo & Upko gear was a dream for me, the pieces are made with such reverence and couture-level construction. Might I even say that Zalo’s products are the Birkin bag of BDSM world? We’re talking Italian leather craftsmanship so superior that Hermès himself would be drooling with envy. The high-end collection is enchanting and delightfully feminine, likely geared at female submission. However, the power behind the superior leather had me embracing my inner domina.
Zalo Doll Collection in Motion
Author of Bow Down: Lessons from Dominatrixes on How to Get Everything You Want, Lindsay Goldwert helped to fuel this sense of female empowerment. When I showed her the gear she quipped, “I hope the women who buy or receive this kit take it upon themselves to flip some power dynamics and see what it’s like to wield that crop or whip. It might change their lives.”
Needing no further encouragement, I rounded up a few BDSM experts, some downright badass models, and a rock star female photographer to let female supremacy reign supreme while testing out Zalo & Upko’s luxury BDSM collection.
There are no pink fuzzy handcuffs or cutesy blindfolds here. When I opened the blood-red, velvet-lined box I was immediately greeted by the smell of leather, and awestruck by the gold accents and perfect stitching. For some reason seeing something so sinful presented so ceremoniously only added to the allure and sense of the forbidden. A perfectly balanced line for the novice or the seasoned player, the Doll collection includes a collar and cuffs set with leash, a rose ball gag, a leather whip and a fierce riding crop. Inspired by a rose’s beautiful petals and pain-inducing thorns, Zalo’s designer incorporated rose motifs throughout the collection.
The Leather Thorn Cuffs
The only cuffing season I’m interested in this year is the Leather Thorn Cuffs set. The soft, supple leather is topped with frilly tulle ruffles around the wrists, all trimmed with gold hardware, of course, a nod to Baroque art the designer was inspired by. A set of cuffs is a perfect entry point for those looking to add a little bondage in the boudoir.
“I do like the gold thorn pattern on the cuffs,” says Goldwert. “It’s delicate but it’s got a subtle bite.”
Not only lovely, but I also put the cuffs to the test and they are brilliantly functional. Adjustable fit for female or male wrists, they come with a double-ended clip, creating limitless ways to lock them together for play.
The Thorn Collar and Chain Leash
If you’re ready to dip your toes a little deeper into the pool of submission, a collar and leash set is an excellent addition to bedroom accessories. The ruffled collar will have you feeling positively like Elizabethan royalty. A breathtaking accessory, it could be worn for play with the accompanying leash, or as an avant-garde choker or day collar. As Zalo notes, “a stunning decoration for the neck, this collar mixes grace with submission.” The gold chain leash as well is positively luxurious, with a leather handle and shiny gold Cuban chain links. When I showed the gear to my dominatrix friend who goes by Mistress Harley, she exclaimed “I feel like a rapper, this gold leash is way more bougie than any of mine!’’
The Rose Riding Crop
Possibly the most elegant item in the collection, the Rose Riding Crop looks downright deadly. A length of the leather-coated rod is topped with a fierce laser-cut leather rose in red and black. Riding crops are also great bedroom accessories for the novice, as they are pretty self-explanatory. Now that I had fully opened Pandora’s box to write this review, I gave it a whirl along with some experienced players. We agreed on a pain level of 5, it delivers a delightful smack, but not likely to leave a mark.
The Leather Thorn Whip
Holy mother of all impact play, this whip reigns supreme. From the intense hand-made leather craftmanship to the scorching sting it delivers, this piece of equipment is worthy of note. The short, flexible Leather Thorn whip is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, not only does Zalo deliver cutting edge designs, they quite literally invented a new piece of impact play gear. When I reviewed it with Harley, she noted, “Well it’s not a whip. Whips are very long. I’m not sure what you’d call it but, oh, that’s gonna hurt so good!”
At 33 inches long with a gold rose ornament grip, the thorn whip smites its subjects with a weighty impact accompanied by a delicious sting. It combines the heavy thud of a paddle with the searing bite of a bullwhip. We gave it a pain level of 8, sure to leave some love marks the next day.
The Rose Ball Gag
Absolutely the most innovative and scandalous product from the Doll collection, the Rose Ball Gag turns erotic submission into art. I had to know how this non-traditional ball gag came to be, so I chatted with Zalo owner Peter Ovsonka, who delighted me with the tale of its fruition. “Our designer created it as a gift for his girlfriend. One night he drank too much. He drew a sketch in the backseat of a taxi on his way home from the bar and sent it to his girlfriend. Now everyone knows us for the final product.”
That sketch on a cocktail napkin proved to be a stroke of genius, the rose ball gag has sold exceptionally well in Europe, where perhaps audiences are a bit more open to kink. The materials used are once again top-notch, the ball and removable rose are thoughtfully made of soft silicone, and the leather head-strap adjusts for a perfect fit.
Zalo & Upko may be new to the BDSM gear world, but considering their premiere collection defined what luxury bondage gear can be, I’m certain they will be taking the kink world by storm soon. I can only imagine what their master leather craftsmen are thinking as they stitch these pieces for us in their atelier. The Doll collection showcases a level of aesthetics and attention to detail on the level of master couturiers. From the cuffs to the whips, holding them in your hands they feel almost ceremonial and ritualistic. I can see a Zalo whip becoming a status symbol for BDSM players the way a designer handbag is for the vanillas. Zalo truly has created a luxury intimacy experience, couture kink, if you will.
Learn more about the Zalo Luxury BDSM Accessory Collection
Zalo Luxury BDSM Accessory Collection Galelry
Photos by: BeauMonde Originals