Gal Gadot, DC Comics and the whole Justice League gang are not the only big winners from Wonder Woman, the film franchise that has already taken in more than $780m (£603m) globally; it just seems to keep on giving (and is already gearing up for a sequel).
The latest beneficiary of the film’s halo effect is Whitaker Malem – the London leather designer brand behind the superheroine’s metallic leather armour, as well as the armour for her fellow Amazons. They are this season’s breakout British brand.
“Wonder Woman is our calling card at the moment,” said Keir Malem, 52, sitting with his partner, Paddy Whitaker, also 52, in the loft-like ground floor of their two-story home and atelier in Dalston, East London.
Dotted around the walls are mementos from their travels, mixed in with seminal artworks from the 20th-century Italian maestro Lucio Fontana and a 1970s 3-D spotted torso by the British pop artist Allen Jones. The two men, who uncannily look and dress alike, had just returned from a five-month stint making more leather armour on location in Australia for Wonder Woman’s sister film, Aquaman, scheduled for release in December 2018.
Just upstairs from where they were sitting was the atelier where the Wonder Woman armour, commissioned by Lindy Hemming – the film’s costume designer – was born.
The two work at side-by-side desks, and pictures adorn the main wall, including a close-up of the Wonder Woman costume made before it was metallicised. Torsos fitted with leather corsets litter the room, while hidden at the back is a vintage 1950s-singer sewing machine, bought at Chapel Market in north London for £60 in 1988. On it, Malem said, “everything is done, even though it wasn’t made for sewing leather”.
Items from Whitaker Malem, the fashion brand in London behind the metallic leather armour worn in ‘Wonder Woman’
Called “beyond cool” by New York magazine, Wonder Woman’s armour has become a breakout star in its own right. “We were allowed to go close to the body and do sexy armour, which is unusual, as a lot of armour is massive,” Malem said.
Rihanna’s stylist, Mel Ottenberg, asked to borrow a moss-green shearling corset for the kick-off of the star’s jewellrey collaboration with Chopard at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
The veteran costume designer Sandy Powell – known for films like Shakespeare in Love and the coming Mary Poppins Returns – asked Whitaker Malem to design…