Wednesday, 17 September 2014

the boys with the most cake: a modern history of meadham kirchhoff

Meadham Kirchhoff is one of my favourite fashion houses, if not my favourite. Their designs are idiosyncratic and limitlessly creative. Although everything looks very pretty there is usually a further purpose than that. Meadham Kirchhoff is the only fashion house that comes to mind when I think about designers that consistently produce collections that have a somewhat political agenda. Although it sounds like a stark contrast, it is also a very teen oriented brand and the main objective is to have FUN. Because believe it or not, teenagers can actually be interested in ISSUES and POLITICS etc!! Shocking!! I know!! Meadham Kirchhoff has inspired a legion of teenage fans to turn fashion into an outlet for creativity. 

Spring 2011

Beneath the creative, experimental teen queen rainbow hair vibes was a thought out message about female empowerment. Inspired by Courtney Love, PJ Harvey and the riot grrrl movement, the pastel pinks and frills were an attack on traditional femininity and the generically wearable "ladylike" dresses that designers send down the runway just to please buyers. It is easy to see the Courtney Love influence in making pretty clothes into a somewhat angry statement. Channelling femininity in such blunt terms is empowering and the collection has been described as a "call to arms" for girls and women everywhere to reclaim what it means to be female on their own terms. 

Favourite Looks

Fall 2011

This collection possessed a toned down simplicity not seen amongst the rainbow hair and frills in Spring 2011. However, the basic colour palette did not hinder the use of frills or the genderless philosophy. All the models lined up close together before the show and all came onto the runway at the same time, walking quickly, close together, in single file down the runway. They came back for one more fast paced march, then the show was over. The focus was on uniformity, which also brings to mind conformity. The show could appear to be making a point about the line of production and/or it could also be pointing out that it is difficult to get noticed if you dress like everyone else. Editors and photographers were shocked at the lack of time they had to get a proper look at the clothes as they whizzed past. 

Favourite Looks 

Spring 2012

I will always be deeply fond of this collection because it was the one that introduced me to Meadham Kirchhoff. I had never seen or heard of a fashion show quite like it before. Now more than ever it is clear that designers are always trying to upstage one another to gain social media monopoly throughout fashion week. However, when I watched those Courtney Love ballerinas dancing in the centre of the runway, I felt so excited about the possibilities that fashion shows can hold. It is said that this collection had showgoers virtually in tears, and I can understand why. Addressing the same themes as Spring 2011 in a more developed manner, Meadham Kirchhoff's signature frills and childlike motifs made this show ICONIC. 

Favourite Looks

Fall 2012

This was one of Meadham Kirchhoff's more fun collections. However, the punk attitude was still there, buried in with the fun. What better way to rebel against society and its flaws than not letting it get you down? Although pieced together in bravely outlandish creations, the collection contains a number of pieces that would be highly wearable if styled in slightly different ways. Dyed fur jackets and sparkly tights can become a statement piece in any outfit that may be feeling slightly plain.

Favourite Looks 

Spring 2013

This was their most opulent and extravagant collection. And that is what the collection was about: opulence and extravagance. Note the gold and jewel embellishments, the heavy jewellery and the gold embroidery. Luxury is the focus here and, although over the top at times, it works. The collection avoids looking obnoxiously pretty or clichĂ© through using clashing prints and fabrics. The consistent colour scheme is the only thing that avoids it looking messy.  

Favourite Looks

Fall 2013

The colours in this collection are much easier on the eye. Its restriction to almost entirely to black and white is one of its main strengths. The lace embellishments and frills no longer seem sickeningly sweet. Instead they take on a darker Miss Havisham-esque tone. I would like the guests at my funeral to dress in Fall 2013 Meadham Kirchhoff. Overall there is a definite aura of death and mourning, but it has been made into something beautiful. 

Favourite Looks

Spring 2014

This collection was achingly beautiful. The hair in ringlets suggested a classical beauty reflected by the garden setting. This clashed with the shiny jackets thrown carelessly over the top of pretty dresses, giving everything a punk attitude. The witchy vibes connect to this because supposed witches were pretty punk for daring to act differently to what was expected. Unfortunately it didn't go so well for them...

Fall 2014

On first impressions, a lot of these looks seem as though they would look more in place at a tween party than on a London Fashion Week runway. However, there are some complexly beautiful designs towards the end of the collection. The veiled chiffon dresses are far from a mismatched experiment from a raid of your mother's wardrobe. They have an individual creative flair. 

Most of the pieces were pretty but nothing spectacular. The Chanel influence is more prominent here than any of the past collections. Oversized bouclé wool suits and dresses gave the collection an amateur grown up look that seemed slightly out of place given the setting. It is really interesting seeing such a modern visionary brand take such direct inspiration from such an old and well-established institution as Chanel. I love seeing two of my favourite brands coming together.

Favourite Looks

Spring 2015

Last, and probably least as well, is Tuesday's collection. The outfits here look a bit of a mess. They are all over the place. Despite this, Meadham Kirchhoff is back to its original, political self with bloody tampons as accessories, make up on boys and no make up on some of the girls and street casting models. 

The fact that the models were street casted with most of them having no previous modelling experience did make the brand seem youthfully democratic, showing that that part of its image is not just for show. I do think that it left it a little lacking at times though. Perhaps if the pieces had been closer to resembling one of their "pretty" collections it would have worked, but overall, it had a frumpy effect. I guess that was the point though. When the invitations to the show are written on the back of a postcard that tells you to "Reject Everything!" you would be disappointed with anything less. This anti-fashion look works if you put it into that perspective. 

My criticisms would suggest otherwise, but the ideas in this collection are really in line with how I feel about getting dressed and the sartorial choices that I make. There is a certain thrill in dressing outside of "the rules" and I've found that it is quite effective at annoying the more close-minded of people.

Favourite Looks

In conclusion, Meadham Kirchhoff is a brilliant brand that reminds us every season why London is such a great fashion capital and why it is so wonderful to be young right now when fashion can have such an impact. Having looked at every collection, this is my judgement- THE BEST: Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2014 and THE WORST: Spring 2013, Spring 2015.

What are your favourite Meadham Kirchhoff collections?


  1. i love love love meadham kirchhoff (to the extent where i actually queued for their open casting). i like the way all their collections play off different themes, some being dark and elegant and others cutesy and fun, but they all have that playful undertone. SS12 is the one i think of most when i think of them, but the hair looks in SS14 are something i still wish i had long enough hair to replicate.

    1. that's so cool that you did that! i wanted to but it would have been a bit of a journey for me. i saw their fashion in motion show at the V&A in december last year though and it was breathtaking. the ringlets in SS14 are sooo cute.


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