Whitaker Malem

Tuesday, March 14, 6:00 p.m.7:30 p.m.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Fullerton Hall, 111 S. Michigan Ave.

Join us in person for a lecture by designers Patrick Whitaker and Keir Malem followed by an audience Q&A. 

This event will be live captioned by Communication Access Realtime Translation services. 

Patrick Whitaker and Keir Malem have been together professionally and personally for more than 35 years. Renowned for their leatherwork, the self-proclaimed “pop artisans” have spent more than three decades obsessing over the human form and crafting what they describe as body-based sculptures that occupy the fantastic realm between art, fashion, and costume. Their influence on popular culture encompasses various creative fields and has led to involvement with many leading visionaries.     
Fashion collaborations have included Alexander McQueen for Givenchy haute couture, Hussein Chalayan, Christian Louboutin, Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry, Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, Giles Deacon, and more. 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 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 Madonna, Mick Jagger, Janet Jackson, Cher, Paula Abdul, Gloria Estefan, Paloma Faith, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, and Tove Lo, amongst others, have all 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 and notably created more than 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.

Whitaker Makem’s first solo exhibition in 2017 at The Gallery Liverpool consisted of a retrospective of work and introduced 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, the duo has 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 designers/artisans and offer insights into their inspiration, evolution, processes, and experiences across the varied worlds of fashion, film, and art.

Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Fashion Council and the Penny Stamps Speaker Series at the University of Michigan.

View the Whitaker Malem SAIC Flaxman Library Resource Guide for additional information about the designers.