Fashion with beauty and brains; Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff achieve this with their eccentric, lavish and politically charged designs. Dressing up intelligence in a satin babydoll dress, adorning feminism with frills and glitter and placing satire in a bubble of kitsch.
The pair met whilst studying at Central Saint Martins and since graduating in 2002, have worked together on various projects, starting with a menswear line named after Benjamin Kirchhoff. Feeling trapped within the boundaries of men’s fashion, in 2006 they created Meadham Kirchhoff - a womenswear label that consists of feminine designs that are considered and executed in an old fashioned manner.
They talk of their designs as “a re-evaluation of the values of banality” and “a corruption of classic garments”. Their beautiful dishevelled prettiness is displayed using theatrical displays and installations, such as the shrine created by Philip Wiegard with Ulrich Nerz at their Autumn Winter 2011 show.
Always heavily influenced by Courtney Love, Meadham refuses to call her his muse, “I find the concept of muses offensive”. However, he has a wall in his office dedicated to pictures of Love from the 90s when she was in the band Hole and other various riot grrrl imagery.
There is an element of Courtney in every Meadham Kirchhoff collection and this season is no different. For their Spring Summer 2012 show, fourteen Love look-alikes came skipping onto the catwalk smearing on red lipstick and powdering their faces with oversized makeup poufs, paying homage to the ‘Miss World’ video by Hole. “Pink, fluffy loveliness” are the words used by Edward to sum up the show.
Both men share the same beliefs when it comes to the ‘perfect’ Meadham Kirchhoff woman; she must be “uncompromising, aware and individual”, much like themselves. Ed and Ben like these women to have an ambivalent attitude towards the rest of the world and are courageous when styling their outfits. They must also have a melancholic air to them as well as being nonchalantly elegant.
The price of Meadham Kirchhoff designs reflects the attention to detail, hard work and dedication that goes into creating these works of art. The boys felt that their clothing was not accessible to everyone who wished to wear it so designed a Spring Summer 2010 capsule collection for Topshop. This was so successful that they then designed a second collection, for Spring Summer 2011. In June 2011 they turned their hand to floristry and teamed up with Wild At Heart for a secret store within Topshop’s Flagship store.
The buzz and anticipation around Meadham Kirchhoff continues to grow and their unpredictability keeps the fashion industry on the edge of their seats. However, Meadham and Kirchhoff want no such attention. “We just want to be one of those nice, quiet couture houses that is left alone to do what it wants,” says Benjamin. “People understand our choices. Interest is growing and there is a certain respect there. I think it’s slowly starting to happen.”