The industry needs a daredevil. Without one, nothing changes. For nearly a decade, Meadham Kirchhoff had been exactly that, which is why the news that Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff’s namesake is closing its doors has distressed the fashion world’s spectators and players far and wide. As the industry mourns the label we have all come to know and love, or have at least been forced to recognise, we revisit the highlights of Meadham Kirchhoff’s ten-year lifetime.
Fresh out of Central Saint Martins, the pair had been working together primarily on their menswear line – first showing at MAN – before turning their eye to womenswear as well. The expansion led to their being scouted for Fashion East for AW06, garnering the full attention of the industry. Their first collection under the Fashion East name saw figure sculpting designs in deep shades of cobalt and black, interweaved with menswear outfits as a nod to their original design intentions. This would turn out the be the beginning of nearly a decade of fashion ingenuity at the hands of Meadham Kirchhoff.
Generally, as the years go by, the world comes to expect certain things from a brand; particular patterns of behaviour. Yet Meadham Kirchhoff would never succumb to such banalities: one season saw the marriage of schoolgirl innocence with witchcraft (AW11), the next came a circus extravaganza, eccentric in all its candy-floss hair and saccharine palette. And the season after that? If the 70s and the 80s had a fight, using disco balls, sequins and face paint as weapons, then this is what it would look like; nothing was too extraordinary for Meadham Kirchhoff.
If you were to ask a room of fashion followers who Topshop’s best design partnership would be with, you can bet that many would raise their hand in answering to Meadham Kirchhoff. The retailing giant, which famously straddles the line between high street and high fashion to resounding success, had teamed up with the London-based duo on several occasions, each offering bigger and more daring than the last. Their most shocking collection for Topshop would therefore be their second full line which dropped at the end of 2013. For a label that did dark mystery so effortlessly, the sugary-sweet hues, girlish frills and eerie cartoon faces plastered across the collection are the stuff of childhood – and fashion – dreams.
Their final collection would turn out to be for SS15, and true to their unpredictable nature the duo offered up 40 outfits that embodied the rebellious spirit at the core of the label. The revival of the conical bra gave a nod to the punk attitude of its 80s origins, colours slapped onlookers around the face in all their clashing glory, and material was stacked in so many layers that nobody would ever be able to reveal the character at the centre of these metaphorical onions. Yet Meadham Kirchhoff went beyond the clothes: ‘models’ were pulled from the street, and women and men shared the runway in a near-ironic cycle that resembled their beginnings.
Once the news sets in and fans begin to accept the loss of a truly fearless label, the question will be whether anyone could fill Meadham Kirchhoff’s glittery, furry boots. Somehow, we doubt it.