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Photography Fumi Nagasaka. Styling Robbie Spencer.

Keko Hainswheeler (London, UK)

London designer Keko uses rag and bone findings as inspiration for his collections.

Watching his opulent auntie is how designer Keko Hainswheeler initially got interested in fashion. “She was always smothered in bling and pearls” explains the London-based designer. “I could spend hours on end playing with her matching sets of jewellery. It was like an Alladin’s cave without the lamp, and I guess that was my first inspiration!”

Since then, his outlandish designs – including a corset made out of nails, a cellophane bow and a visor embellished with pom poms and feathers – were quickly snapped by the industry, including Dazed’s Nicola Formichetti, who commisioned his work for Vogue Hommes Japan and Another Man.

Hainshweeler describes his work as “ecclectic, embellished and crafted”, which is evident when you see his baroque-like accessories. Combining embroidery with recycled materials, his designs have a punkish quality and burst with uncanny ideas and decoration. “I’m not the kind of person who goes to Soho to buy 10 metres of fabric” he affirms. “I like industrial materials – metals, plastics, leftovers from a hardware store.” And whether its nails, chopsticks or cellophane, there are no boundaries to his rampant imagination.

For his recent collection, Hainswheeler was influenced by derelict spaces, a theme that might bring Zoolander’s Mugatu to mind. “I think there’s something beautiful about those places” he explains. “Most people walk past them and don’t even notice them, but I find them fascinating. I’m always inspired by products of the society – from derelict to glorified and from lost to found.”

Having recently collaborated on hats for Emma Bell’s spring / summer 09 collection, Hainswheeler has now expanded into clothes and recently showed a video installation during London Fashion Week in February. And, considering his love for excess, we know that he meant it when saying “it won’t be for the faint-hearted.”