I may be running around between flat and new house with bits of polyfilla and chipped off tile adhesive stuck to my hair and yes, I am beginning to sound like that boring and annoying person who ALWAYS talks about houses/married life/babies/delete as appropriate, but I haven't abandoned my vocational priorities altogether. There was no way I was going to miss this particular Victoria & Albert Museum Fashion in Motion featuring Meadham Kirchhoff. Better still that Ben Kirchhoff and Ed Meadham staged this retrospective on the back of a successful sell-out Topshop collaboration, proving that "weird" does sell, and a S/S 14 collection that lingered on the back of many a mind as the season's overall standout. This was also an opportunity to prove those Meadham Kirchhoff naysayers and the people who wrongly assumed that they're a one-aesthetic-pony, how broad, rich and above all, beautiful their clothes are. "When approaching every collection or garment we secretly hope to make something worthy of being seen in a museum, so for us it is an honour to present a show comprised of hand-picked pieces from our favourite collections," said Ben and Ed about being asked to do a Fashion in Motion show. The word "worthy" or from a consumer's perspective "worth it" is exactly what we saw at the show.
From their vast back catalogue, they had to whittle it down to thirty-five looks that would attempt to summarise everything that Meadham Kirchhoff represents. The result? Every outfit, which mixed up seasons spanning from S/S 10 to S/S 14, was comprised of pieces that glowed, sparkled and rustled with beautiful craftsmanship – a point that I so often bring up when talking about Meadham Kirchhoff. Because beyond the rainbow hair, paint smeared eyes and kinderwhore and fairy vibes, the pair are devoted to making things that have weight and heft – not just in the physical sense – but that fifty years from now, their clothes will have gravitas and significance. That's what the Fashion in Motion series has been so successful at showcasing over the years. Placing Meadham Kirchhoff's clothes to the backdrop of Raphael Hall, soundtracked by a mash-up ranging from Bernard Herrmann Psycho score to ABBA's Dancing Queen, only confirmed what most of us already know – that Ben Kirchhoff and Ed Meadham really matter in the scheme of fashion's wider context. It was evident in the audience too – you could spot the Meadham Kirchhoff fan girls (and a few boys too…) a mile away. Some of them were doing the folksy MK thing, some of them the pastel frou frou thing and some just went all out on riotous outfits of colours and layers.
The show mirrored the aesthetic strands or Meadham Kirchhoff epochs that the duo have gone through over the years and what struck me most was the way their seasons bled into one another so seamlessly. The embroidered blouses of the witchy Children of the Corn A/W 11 collection paired up with the Chanel at Deauville A/W 13-4 collection. The disco dollies of A/W 12-3 mashed up with the painted biker and chiffon combos of S/S 11 and better yet – the hardened glitter tees of S/S 10 – perhaps the season, which could be cited as the starting point of Ben and Ed marching to the beat of their own awesome glitter-sprinkled, vintage wallpaper decoupaged and sticker-covered drum. Historical references mixing with Madame de Pompadour decadence of S/S 12 colliding with flapper beading from their excellent S/S 14 collection. They saved the emosh moment until last though as Danny Elfman's soundtrack from Edward Scissorhands teared up the audience for the final passage dedicated mostly to their seminal S/S 12 "A Wolf in Sheep's Lamb's Clothing" show. No need for a tiered cake set, dancing Courtney Loves or child ballerinas though. The clothes were more than enough. And they were all worn convincingly by fantastically street cast group of girls, who looked much like the MK hardcore fanbase – people who might eschew "fashion" as they know it firsthand and look upon Meadham Kirchhoff as a much-needed alternative in an increasingly homogenised field.