There’s something grossly uncomfortable about this interview that Ed Meadham did with Anders Christian Madsen for i-D. Over tea, Meadham opens up about the demise of the almost-cult label Meadham Kirchhoff, one of the saddest and in my mind, completely preventable losses of the fashion world. The interview touches on the label’s insolvency, Meadham winding up in a coma, an unsanctioned sample sale of the brand’s precious archive as a result of a cruel case of profiteering and a personal isolation that left Meadham practically jobless for two years. It makes for a tortured and bittersweet read because it brought up the waves of anger that I’ve touched upon time and time again about the fit-in-or-die mentality of the most cut throat parts of the fashion industry. How genuine talent isn’t always necessarily rewarded. How waves of press hype often malign the designers that deserve it. How retailers are often restrained in their financial and sales-driven ability to buy as creatively as one might hope.
Certainly in the case of Meadham Kirchhoff, it was never the case that the public didn’t want what they were serving (which is the stark and plain truth behind many labels’ downfall). The love was strong. It was a rainbow outpouring of unicorn, heart and sparkle emojis from all over the world, reblogged and liked on Tumblr and championed by maverick-minded figures such as Tavi Gevinson and Ione Gable of Polyester Zine. The mainstream press of course chimed in and celebrated the label’s high points as well when it suited them, but as Meadham recalls being blanked by certain people in the industry at a recent RCA show, it exposes the cruel fickleness of the industry. Meadham ponders this volte-face: “It was like, ‘Are you not allowed to speak to failures?'”
There is of course no point in praising talent to the high hills if there’s no work to show for it. So in an act of cathartic defiance and to trial a new way of channelling Meadham’s ideas, energy and yes, talent, Ronnie Newhouse of fashion agency House + Holme and Adrian Joffe of Dover Street Market invited Meadham to create a new brand for the store. That warms the heart. Two people with means, power and influence creating alternative paths for a designer that was always destined for alternative ways of working.
The Blue Roses space at Dover Street Market replete with Meadham’s collages and scribblings
And so on Thursday on the ground floor of Dover Street Market London, a heart-shaped chocolate box opens up to the debut of Blue Roses, named in reference to the famous line in Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie. With the support of DSM, Meadham has created a line of affordable tees, hoods, stockings and pretty pieces of frippery such as a Victorian velvet collar and matching sleeves. Glitter encrusted sweatshirts are perhaps the only direct flashbacks to Meadham Kirchhoff’s early past but it’s an idea that still stands solid (literally) today. The texture makes for a nice onomatopoeia and leaves its sparkly fairy dust all over my coffee table when I try it on at home. It’s not really a regurgitation of greatest hits but rather essences of Meadham’s oeuvre and aesthetic that come with pleasingly and comparatively purse-friendly prices (starting at £58 for a tee and rising up to the £200s for the velvet and glitter stuff). Former MK-heads were already enthusiastically rifling through the rails when I popped in to delve into the Blue Roses corner on Friday morning. Some of the pieces are available on the DSM site but the best selection remains in-store.
Where does this leave Meadham then today? It’s not quite a full on resurrection, nor would you expect a shouty comeback from Meadham. The i-D interview ends with “I always wanted to put some beauty into the world. I tried very hard.” The past tense tinged with sadness, in that last sentence seemingly comes with a hardened sigh of despondency over his output and achievements. No, Ed. You DID create beauty and it DID spread far and wide in the world. With Blue Roses, there are signs of a beginning that could indeed flourish with the correct modifications that such a floral genus requires. I, along with countless others will be sitting here willing it to happen.
Blue Roses velvet frilly collar and sleeves worn with vintage dress
Blue Roses long-sleeved tee worn with Sacai shirt, navy tulle skirt and Marques Almeida furry trainers
Blue Roses pink glitter top worn with Minki Cheng skirt