One would be hard-pressed to come across anybody who doesn’t immediately recognise the work of Whitaker Malem: you may not have heard their names, but you will most definitely have seen their work. Their influence on popular culture encompasses various creative fields and has led to involvement with many leading visionaries.
Patrick Whitaker and Keir Malem have been together professionally and personally for over 35 years. Renowned in particular for their leatherwork, the self-proclaimed “Pop-Artisans” have spent more than three decades obsessing over the human form, crafting what they describe as body-based sculptures that occupy the fantastic realm between art, fashion and costume.
Fashion collaborations have included Alexander McQueen for Givenchy haute couture, Hussein Chalayan, Christian Louboutin, Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry, Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, and Giles Deacon. Whitaker Malem’s creations have been photographed by David LaChapelle, Ellen Von Unwerth, Helmut Newton, Mario Testino, Rankin, Terry O’Neill, and Tim Walker, and have been featured in iconic fashion editorials by Herb Ritts for British Vogue, Pierre et Gilles for Vogue France, and, more recently, by Rafael Pavarotti for Vogue Italia.
Pop music artists including Madonna, Mick Jagger, Janet Jackson, Cher, Paula Abdul, Gloria Estefan, Paloma Faith, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, and Tove Lo have worn their designs.
Over the last 20 years the duo have also worked on numerous movie franchises such as James Bond, Harry Potter and Fast & Furious, notably creating over 100 armor costumes for Wonder Woman and her Amazonian world. Other productions include Aquaman, Eragon, 300: Rise of an Empire, Clash of the Titans and more. They have also created superhero suits for Captain America, The First Avenger, and Batman: The Dark Knight.
2017 saw the first solo Whitaker Malem exhibition at The Gallery Liverpool, showing retrospective work & introducing Transmorphic Superpeople, an optimistic exploration of the multiple possibilities of fluid sexual identities. Their work has also been exhibited worldwide in various group shows. In parallel, for the last 25 years, Patrick and Keir have enjoyed working closely with celebrated British pop artist Allen Jones, dressing many of his hypersexualised sculptures.
This presentation will explore maintaining an authentic working practice as independent freelance designer/artisans and offer insights into their inspiration, evolution, processes & experiences across the varied worlds of Fashion, Film, and Art.
Presented in partnership with The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with support from Design Core Detroit. Series presenting partners: Detroit Public Television and PBS Books. Media partner: Michigan Radio.
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