THE UNIVERSE OF NICHOLAS KIRKWOOD

 

In October 2011 Nicholas Kirkwood came over to Poznań in order to participate in the Open University, free workshops being a part of the Art&Fashion in Stary Browar.

During the meeting he talked about his education, career and private life. What was the most important for us though, was his collection of footwear inspired by the art of the top pop art representative – Keith Haring that he told us about. It turned out that the pop art artist and the contemporary shoe designer have a lot in common. Keith Haring once transformed the way that art was perceived; he believed that it could change the world and made art available to everyone.

 

NEW YORK, APRIL 1986

Young, avant-garde artist Keith Haring opened the Pop Shop in Soho. The shop was a new way of presenting art. Haring filled the interior with a huge black and white graffiti; clients could buy t-shirts, toys, posters, paperweights and magnets decorated with his drawings. Art became cheap and available.  The art circle didn’t support the young artist’s ‘shallow’ and commercial ideas. Andy Warhol was one of the few of Haring’s supporters. His linear projects became a powerful communication tool of the time. They showed what was important: bad economy, political conflicts, fear of death or disease, they also concerned the issues of equality.

 

LONDON, MAY 2011

Nicholas Kirkwood, one of the most interesting designers of the young generation, opened his first boutique in London. The shop is located in a prestigious Mayfair, nearby the salons of Marc Jacobs and Christian Louboutin. Especially for the occasion, in cooperation with Swarovski, a shoe collection inspired by the artist and called ‘Nicholas Kirkwood x Keith Haring’ was born. The movie ‘The Universe of Keith Haring’ was one of the reasons for creating the series.  According to the designer, Haring’s biography and art is the essence of the 80s atmosphere. Haring painted, drew and basically got engaged in all the art fields. Together with Kenny Scharf, Samantha McEwen and other students from the School of Visual Arts in New York, he organized shows in the avant-garde Club 57. Together they prepared concerts, plays, screenings and poetry readings, often coming close to causing a scandal. Haring’s projects have been used by Madonna and Grace Jones during their concerts. The artist became friends with Yoko Ono, David LaChapelle and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Andy Warhol was his mentor and, for a while, a partner in life. Together they created the bohemia of 80s New York. Keith provoked and experimented, he could perceive any space as an art spot and tested just how far he could go. Often he was caught by the Police, which he turned into a theme for his art. He spoke freely of the subject considered to be a taboo. He didn’t hide his homosexuality and the fact that he was HIV-positive.

NEW YORK, OCTOBER 2011

Nicholas Kirkwood’s collection ‘Nicholas Kirkwood x Keith Haring’ was presented at the Pace Prints gallery. Aside from the footwear, clothing and accessories created under the influence of Haring by Patricia Field – a stylist from ‘Sex and the City’, were shown.  The projects were presented in a reconstructed Pop Shop that has only been opened online since 2005. Screen-printings were also shown at the gallery – inspired by the Chinese drawing technique with black ink only.


POZNAŃ, OCTOBER 2011

Nicholas Kirkwood was the special guest of the 5th edition of Art&Fashion Festival. Grażyna Kulczyk and the Italian brand Pollini invited Kirkwood to the festival (he has been a creative director of the company for a year). During his conversation with Piotr Zachara, editor in chief of the Polish edition of InStyle, Kirkwood talked about his studies at Central Saint Martins in London, his most important inspirations, cooperation with fashion houses Erdem and Rodarte as well as his plans for the future. He has revealed that he is planning to work with Gosia Baczyńska (Baczyńska’s boutique is currently the only place in Poland where Kirkwood’s projects can be purchased). He also mentioned his meeting with Philip Treacy. It turned out that the hat creator is Kirkwood’s idol and teacher, a lot like Andy Warhol was to Haring. When I asked him about the next artistic project that could be compared to the one prepared with Keith Haring’s Foundation, he answered: it shouldn’t be forced. Such projects should be made spontaneously, without the pressure of commercial success. I think that Haring would agree.

 

Nicholas Kirkwood: He is one of the most important British footwear designers. He has worked for such fashion houses as Gareth Pugh, Meadham Kirchoff, Philip Lim or Zac Posen. He created his own brand in 2005, since 2010 he has also been a creative director of the Italian brand Pollini, His fans and clients include: Sarah Jessica Parker and Julianne Moore. More than anything, shoes from Nicholas Kirkwood mean a contrast based on an untypical combination of colours and fabrics, as well as sharp lines and geometric or rather architectural shapes. In 2011 the designer transformed Keith Haring’s iconic paintings onto shoes, while the characters known from the artist’s drawings started to play the role of, amongst others, the heel.

 

 

AFF MAGAZYN 1/2012