Designer artisans Whitaker Malem are the unsung heroes of some of the most iconic fashion collections and film costumes of the last twenty years.
Having just completed Chris Evans’ Captain America suit for the forthcoming film (stay tuned for an interview with the Captain himself), Patrick Whitaker and Keir Malem are responsible for Christian Bale’s Dark Knight costume, Brad Pitt’s Troy armour and Halle Berry’s Bond belt, and that’s not even their primary focus. As is the case with many good partnerships, the pair met at a party in the mid-80s whilst studying fashion at Central Saint Martins, working on collections for the college’s alternative show, one of which was hosted by Leigh Bowery. Their first major collaboration in the fashion world was with Alexander McQueen for his first Givenchy couture collection. Other accolades under their Bond belt include work with Gucci, Valentino, Tommy Hilfiger, and more recently Hussein Chalayan and Giles Deacon. Spreading their wings even further afield, Whitaker Malem have a long-standing working relationship with pop-artist Allen Jones and artist Andrew Logan; having worked on the male half of Logan’s Alternative Miss World costume since 1991 whilst Zandra Rhodes dressed the female half.
Working predominantly with leather and armed with an elevated understanding of bodycon, the duo are the creative force waiting patiently in the wings as the frontmen take the glory. From fashion’s most wanted, to the envy of every Batman and Captain America mega fan, and with more than a passing contribution to modern art, Whitaker Malem are the behind the scenes visionaries of a generation of cult pieces, in fashion, film and beyond. Having achieved so much in every creative media (we haven’t touched on their music work, which is just as prolific), Patrick and Keir have hopes of presenting their substantial archives in a gallery show in the future, when no doubt we’ll be fighting for a review. i-D Online spent an afternoon in the gentlemen’s studio in East London, filled to the brim with original artworks and archival Whitaker Malem pieces, where they chatted with their friend, and treasured i-D contributor Scarlett.
Images Courtesy Whitaker Malem