David Samuel Menkes = leather god.Posted: December 18, 2019
Living in NYC you have a good chance of finding someone who can reweave a hole in a cashmere Missoni sweater or create a stunning one-of-a-kind dress.
David Samuel Menkes sounds like the gentleman to connect with for custom leather pieces. dievca offered a blog post which had photos using his work: BDSM in Haute Couture – Strict Magazine
If she ever becomes brave enough – she might stroll into his studio and ask if he can make a leather ‘Day Dress’ for her to wear presenting for Master.
Spirit And Flesh Magazine
DAVID SAMUEL MENKES
Interview by CYNTHIA ALTORISO
photography by DAVID CARLO
CYNTHIA ALTORISO: I met David Samuel Menkes by serendipity. I had gone to his building to visit the atelier of a neighboring bespoke tailor on his floor. When I noticed the wonderful quilted leather and studded door, I stopped in my tracks. Beyond the door was a pleasant-faced, blue-eyed and nosed-ringed man, who invited me in. To step inside David’s studio was akin to visiting Ali Baba’s cave of treasures!
There was David, at his heroic wooden work table, covered with beautiful leathers and interesting findings and tools. Behind him were steps leading to an outdoor Victorian quadrangle encompassing a secret garden unique for its exotic specimens and random classical statuary. This was only the beginning…
Appreciating my joy for his aesthetic, David pointed out the ‘walking stick corner’ which held a vast collection of wondrous vintage walking sticks, many of which I have had the good fortune to borrow for shoots.
Close by, above the wardrobe is a collection of marvelous old hats and hat boxes. Next, we moved into his bedroom with its’s centrally positioned canopy bed, draped with fine old paisley shawls.
One wall was covered in shelves holding antique sewing implements. Another wall held a vast collection of classical music covers, the many spines proudly proclaiming impressive works. And then there are the 2 drawers full of the bone button collection, the pleasure of which is to run one’s hands through. And there are the charming vintage children’s chairs. There’s more, much more, and, after these many years of knowing David, it has become a custom for me to bring visitors to experience this creative field trip.
David’s skills are not limited to the demimonde. For a project I was doing with Amy Arbus, he made a Picasso clown suit, for a shoot with Alan Cumming he made a spy’s binocular case, and for a shoot with Ellen von Unwerth, he crafted a lovely muzzle. I also arranged for a custom-made leather jacket, with the Union Jack, for Zombie, Rod Argent. Too many to list here, David has made or lent me many cunning pieces and accessories…the random eyepatch, the leather corset, the riding crops, etc., etc.
David is an old school artisan lovingly plying his trade, making up one of New York’s living, creative treasures.
I call him ‘The Leather Master’.
David Samuel Menkes established Custom Leatherwear in 1980. After graduating from Carnegie-Mellon University/ BA Costume and Scenic Design, he arrived in NY with theater dreams but soon found the Leather Scene more interesting. Applying a certain theatrical flair allowed for a wide range of designs within a strict code of dress. Developing a specialty in leathercraft also brought Fashion and Theater projects, as well as crafting for Artists, Interior Designers, Performers, and private customers, with projects ranging from Dog Muzzles to covering a giant head of Stalin with a hood!