Meadham Kirchhoff titillated audiences at London Fashion Week by delivering a tantalizing alternative to the mainstream fashion industry. We were left with some hints as to their intentions when they advertised an open casting call for their show a few weeks before the big event, but I don't think anyone could have imagined anything this big. As always Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff have delivered a stunning setting, moving away from the decadent French palaces of Marie Antoinette nestled in Versailles and instead the imagined ruins of a dilapidated teenage bedroom. These include haphazardly painted wooden picture frames in red and blue to match the clothes. At the very back of the backdrop you can see a blue-haired woman, artist and photographer Arvida Byström for Polyester Zine (if you haven't checked out either and feel inspired by this collection I highly recommend that you do!).
The open casting call I mentioned before came to fruition in the form of a diversity of different body types, races, as well as both men and women melting together to create an androgynous identity for the collection. This only underlined Meadham Kirchhoff's mantra for their Spring collection which was "Reject Everything (that mainstream fashion represents)", a statement aptly finished by London style blogger Susie Bubble during her review of the collection. It's been hailed as the salvation of, and the most highly overrated event from London Fashion Week (although I have yet to see the clothes made by those critics and highly doubt they are capable of originality beyond malice and name-calling). I think in terms of the models they employed it was not nearly as diverse as I had hoped, and honestly felt disappointed when met with white wash which served as a constant reminder that a pale complexion is still disproportionally represented in all forms of media. Meadham Kirchhoff was progressive and made a statement at fashion week, but we must continue to strive towards change if we are to truly reject everything.
The inspiration of for the show stemmed from a love for what was termed 'The Riot Grrl movement' clumping together punk rock bands such as Bikini Kill and Bratmobile in the third-wave of feminism which worked towards being queer inclusive. Although the movement was largely imagined within the minds of the tabloids who found it easier to picture that Kathleen Hannah and Courtney Love were having sleepovers, painting each other's nails and filling in their journals together it inspired a whole subculture. You can see that this aesthetic was highly influential on Meadham Kirchhoff, who borrowed from elements of the DIY ethic and zines made by lonely teenagers from their bedrooms and commercialized them. The wild hairstyles featuring spunky ponytails, baby braids as well as plastic hair barrettes featuring things like "I HEART JESUS" may also be attributed to this movement, lending an entire look to an army of teenage girls and young women like myself who can't afford to buy the clothes themselves, but who may be inspired by them- something which is a far more powerful tool in today's economy.
Knee high socks accompanied by bright leather strappy shoes created outfits caught somewhere in between superhero and roller derby queen. Of course it's hard not to be reminded of shoes from Danish fashion designer Henrik Vibskov but I still loved seeing all the weird and wacky colour combinations walk down the runway some tall some short, and some looking like sad banana peels. Sad banana peels or pointy elf shoes hiding in some Scandinavian village complete with patchy tights speckled with what looks like tinsel. Or some aspects borrowed from the amazing sheer ruffled dresses. They make an appearance every year but with so much sass and attitude delivered as part of this year's new mission: to change the face of the fashion industry it's hard not to fall in love with the Meadham Kirchhoff staple piece all over again. This year they were also decorated in long tassels in bright pastel colours, with garters, and with large blazers and over sized jackets.
In a world where feminism and the fashion industry do not commonly coexist, and some poor misguided fools think models need to be "saved" from an oppressive regime driven by seemingly unobtainable standards, designers Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff have discarded their previous endeavors from the last few seasons. And they have returned to the kind of deconstructed baby doll dresses in sheer perhaps more suitable for a baptism were they not so torn and disheveled. What's more after exploring the notion of menswear they have included men in their runway show in order to represent the LBGT community and rebel against homophobia. Freedom is a corrupt notion and part of our everyday culture that we all sort of believe in, but we have been urged to see that this is not true. Whether you believe this or not is entirely up to you, it is not up to me to give you permission to seek the answers to these ideas and questions. But inspire you to understand that you can give yourself that permission.
*All images via Style.com