Strange architectural handmade shoes of lead and leather with protruding cones and wings that could be from another planet of the future or the past combined are discreetly exhibited to compliment the equally unusual haute fashion creations. One cannot quite use the classical term ‘haute couture’ for these unusual pieces made from an eclectic mix of wonderful fabrics and improbable materials. Functional, playful and conceptual whilst also being both timeless and fashionable. Some dresses are able to transform from a space creature outfit to that of a business power-woman at a zip.
The talent behind these innovations is, of course, London-based Japanese designer-artist-architect Kei Kagami. After having completed his degree in architecture and working for Japan’s iconic architect, Kenzo Tange, Kei found himself wanting to fashion space around the body. He enrolled at Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College, then London’s Central St Martins where he pipped Alexandra McQueen to the top spot. After a few years under John Galliano, Kei began his own creative label, more for creative liberty than for commerce. As such he has had his works displayed in some of the leading museums and galleries across the world including:
National museum of Scotland (work purchased for the permanent collection), Kunst Haus Wien museum “shoeting stars” (Austria), Kunsthal Rotterdam museum ” S.H.O.E.S ” (Holland ), Rooms / retrospective shoe exhibition (Tokyo), Arnhem mode biennale (Holland), Grassi museum Leipzig (Germany), Netherlands leather shoe museum / retrospective shoe exhibition (Holland), FIT museum / shoe obsession (New York) and the list goes on and on, yet he remains humble and philosophical – see video interview.
It is very rare in our times to come across a designer who is more interested in the creative process than celebrity. Perhaps he has been fortunate enough to have been commissioned by YKK (a world leader in fastening products) to make a collection of zip-inspired pieces. The results of this collaboration were outstanding, no one had seen anything quite like it before. YKK then began sponsoring Kei Kagami’s catwalk shows for London Fashion Week and Milan. He has since designed the first YKK showroom in London, and through YKK, Kei has become actively involved in graduate competitions (for example ITS#ACCESSORIES) and educational initiatives with some of the most prestigious colleges on the planet. (RCA, Hogeschool Antwepren, Shenkar College & Esmod Paris).
The wonderful thing about Paris is that it is here where respect is earned for creativity rather than turnover. The French are always on the lookout for the next visionary not the next rag trade millionaire. In Paris we make a distinction between a ‘creator’ and a ‘designer’ or ‘stylist’. Kei Kagami has already made his lasting contribution to the advancement of design creation. Let’s hope that the French will finally give him the recognition he deserves.