The industrial backwaters of Brooklyn might seem to be the last place the likes of Carine Roitfeld and Karl Lagerfeld would find inspiration, but artists-designer-musician Raúl de Nieves has brought the Left Bank calling upon Maspeth Creek. Working from his small back-room studio at the collective space Secret Project Robot, de Nieves’ has developed something of cult following for his bead-encrusted creations and “performance” knits. Most recently, his bejeweled shoes were featured in a W spread shot by the likes of Mario Sorrenti. And, with his glittery creations set to appear in a forthcoming Harper’s editorial (styled by the aforementioned ubiquitous French duo), de Nieves’ star is sure to rise.
One could be forgiven for thinking such attention would go to a young artists head, but the characteristically insouciant de Nieves looks to be taking it all in stride. During a recent visit to his current workshop de Nieves - working on a made to order pair of shoes for a bride-to-be - cheekily remarked, “I like to be burned with hot glue guns.” Indeed, the Mexican-born artists’ maddeningly intricate beadwork can be found on just about anything he can get his hands on (shoes being just one iteration). Indeed, among other beaded creations, de Nieves’ sculptural pieces have been exhibited extensively, first when has was with Newman Popiashvili Gallery and then later with the storied Williamsburg-based Live with Animals collective at Monster Island. And, beaded work aside, de Nieves’ has made quite a name for himself as a wickedly provocative, often gender-bending performance artist, whether in collaboration with art world darlings Ryan Trecartin and Cody Critcehloe, or as the front man for the now defunct Cry Try Cry and, more recently, as one part of the band Haribo (set to release the first CD later this year).
Importantly, when speaking of his footwear, he is quick to point out they are as much works of art as they are fashion; “sculpture,” de Nieves excitedly remarks, “is way more exciting if you can wear it.” And, lest he be called blithely unaware, de Nieves acknowledges his shoes can be painful - having worn most of them himself - but readily retorts any please of mercy by remarking, “some days, I’d rather be walking on bricks.”
images courtesy of the artist