London-based designer Kei Kagami may have long-conquered Europe, but his work rarely turns up in his native Japan, making his rare appearance at the rooms 27 SS 2014 trade show all the more exciting. For those who haven’t had his visceral creations burned into your retinas, the 2001 to present retrospective he displayed at rooms is as good as any to his world view, especially as his dresses can almost be too much to take in compared to his concise conceptual footwear. Take the shoe below for example, the references to tack, horse shoe on the heel and shape of the toe may be obvious, but the subtle skin-like rippling of the leather, and the joint hinging are what completes the bestial whole.
It goes without saying that the issue of practicality is the first that rears its boring head when people are exposed to Kei’s work. But if you look closely, the heels are actually correctly soled and a damn sight sturdier than your average stiletto, zips allow for easy access and even the skeletal metal structures are pleasantly light.
Personally the aspect of his work that I find most exciting is the return to the visual signifiers of industrialization and turn of the century mechanics. There is a sense that the aesthetics of that time were in a constant state of modernization before they could be fully explored. Elsewhere biker inspired leather braiding, heavy hardware, bones, prosthetic limbs and other favorites of sub-cultural fashion keep the whole accessible, leaving more abstract mathematical and organic references as rewards for those who take their time.
I will leave you uninterrupted to enjoy the evolution of Kei Kagami’s style with a chronological journey through his back catalogue of footwear. Each shoe has been chosen to represent some of the ideas he was exploring that season, but please don’t think this is definitive, there is a whole lot more to take in, not least the philosophy behind the work and his approach to the fashion industry as a whole. For now keep your eye out for re-occurring shapes and how he reinterprets them in both organic and mechanical forms, constantly challenging how we think about those very concepts (can you tell I am a fan of this guy yet?).