30 September 2021


Crowns to adorn balding crowns.

With Baldpieces, conceptual artists Scott Kelly and Ben Polkinghorne envisage an alternate reality. One where men proudly embrace balding by wearing magnificent headpieces designed to accentuate different balding patterns. To bring the idea to life, Kelly and Polkinghorne collaborated with eight incredible designers from around the world. Each used different materials and processes which ensured no two Baldpieces is the same.

The duo then sought out Rankin, who has photographed everyone from the Queen to David Bowie. Speaking about the idea, Rankin said “It just touched a nerve. It’s so confronting yet so unashamedly masculine. I wanted to help the project see the light of day – and help smash a taboo.”

Kelly and Polkinghorne took great care to ensure the project was respectful to men, saying “On some level, we thought of these as crowns – crowns to adorn balding crowns.” They’re also eager to see how the public responds, adding “So far, everyone we’ve talked to about the idea can relate in some way, shape or form. Balding men, girlfriend’s of balding men, even sons of balding men sporting full heads of hair.” And as to whether or not they think Baldpieces will catch on in the real world? “We’ll have to wait and see. And keep an eye out at fashion shows.”

Below, HUNGER catches up with the dynamic duo to discuss their creative process and what’s next for Baldpieces.

Headpiece designer: Gregory Kara in collaboration with Scott Kelly & Ben Polkinghorn

Headpiece designer: Paula Mendoza in collaboration with Scott Kelly & Ben Polkinghorne.

Great to meet you! As a first question, how would you describe the work you do?

Ben Polkinghorne: We always like to try something new or something that pushes us outside of our comfort zone, we enjoy learning new things and trying to do things that sometimes haven’t been done before, which is both a blessing and a curse. 
Scott Kelly: We tend to take something and look for a slightly deeper meaning; it could be something we’re all kind of familiar with, like balding, and finding some deeper commentary on ageing and masculinity. We often take the common everyday thing and dive into that a little bit deeper.

There’s a sense of play in a lot of the work you do — why is that important to you?

SK: We both have a good sense of humour and we enjoy making ourselves smile and I guess that’s what we often look to do as well [with our work]. If we enjoy something and it makes us smile, hopefully it will make other people smile too. There’s lots of serious things in the world so it’s nice to entertain people even if [our work] has a serious meaning.

Can you tell us a bit about the thought process behind your Baldpieces project?

BP:  In western society we’re obsessed with anti-ageing, even though ageing is the most natural process. Often the first time you have to confront your own [depleting] youth or growing older is when you start to notice your hair receding or falling out and balding patterns occurring. As we’re in our thirties, we noticed this happening with ourselves and with our friends. We thought; “Isn’t it crazy how [balding is] almost a taboo that people, especially men, don’t really talk about it?” People that we’ve talked to [about balding] can feel ashamed or that they want to ignore it. We envisaged an alternate reality where men, instead of being ashamed of this balding, embraced the balding patterns that occur. We wanted to create headpieces which embraced the spaces left by balding and were made for them, for men to wear in a confident and proud way to show off to the world their balding spots and focus the attention on the shapes that balding leaves. 

What about the process of producing the headpieces?

SK: We reached out to different artists from around the world who we mostly identified through Instagram to say; “We’re working on this thing and we’d love to work with you.” The reception was awesome, everyone was happy to be involved and it was very special. 
BP: We approached these craftspeople who do everything from jewellery to experimental headpieces and in the end we collaborated with eight different designers, going through the journey with each designer to create something totally unique which would fit a different shape; it could be the patch at the back of the head or the very beginnings at the front of the forehead. That’s why we have quite vastly different headpieces, but they all signify a power and pride in ageing.

What’s next for the project?

BP: Depending on the reception it has from the public we’d like it to be exhibited and think it could work with runway fashion shows. We’re very keen to push it out into the world and see if it gets any traction.


This feature is taken from our Taking Back Control issue. Order your copy here

Photographer Rankin
Beauty Editor Marco Antonio Using DIOR Backstage Foundation and DIOR Capture Totale Super Potent Serum
Hair Editor Nick Irwin SCHWARZKOPF Proffesional Global Styling Ambassador
Creative Concept Scott Kelly and Ben Polkinghorne

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