Dear Shaded Viewers and Diane,
Standing with his turquoise mohawk under the 1869 half dome at the V&A lecture theatre, Keko Hainswheeler cuts both a striking figure and an oddly welcoming one. Throughout his talk yesterday night, he was showered with questions from the gathered crowd. Yes, he pays his interns. No, the comfort of the wearer isn’t really at the forefront of his design process – the results are so grandiose though, that no one ever complained. His work, as he describes it, is “designed to be shot”. Still, if any of us were misled by the Sacred Silver and Stained Glass galleries we had walked through on our way there, Keko points out that his craft needs no squander to be precious: he recycles, and though you wouldn’t know it by looking at it, is used to work on tiny budgets and tight time frames. Grown up in industrial Birmingham, Keko dropped out of uni to swiftly find himself working for the likes Vogue Homme Japan. You know those pages, they’re on the mood boards of many who stayed in school. Dazed & Confused, V Magazine, AnOther Mag, Hunger, all followed soon. Richard Gray at Decoy Magazine did illustrations of his work, and Diesel hired him as Creative Consultant. Keko dressed up Naomi Campbell, Natalie Portman, Katy Perry and more, and went on tour with Gaga. “That piece”, he says, pointing to a black and gold plumed neck brace she wears in his slides, “took 47 hours of hand sewing with no sleep”. On tour, deadlines can get shorter like that. When someone asks if he would consider 3D printing in the future, he says he might, but he would always make the prototype by hand first – because Keko is just one of those artists, who aren’t content with having had an idea. He also brought on stage a gleaming orange piece he made for Skin from a material so difficult to pierce, 60 needles were broken to complete it. He glows a bit, when he tells us this. The hardest the challenge, it seems, the more it pleases him.