Meadham Kirchhoff Ready To Wear Spring Summer 2015 London

Across five days of shows, London's fashion designers have transported audiences into world after different world. Venue-wise, there have been florid state rooms and seedy railway tunnels, derelict office blocks and echoing churches. There have been jungles (at Erdem and Barbara Casasola) and bleak lava landscapes (Mary Katrantzou) -- not to mention last night's slick black sex-box at Tom Ford. And as the schedule wound down, Meadham Kirchhoff lured their guests through a Soho record store into a skylit basement strewn with streamer-festooned trees, lined with foam-wrapped benches and drenched with their heady signature scent.

But all wasn't sweet in Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff's underworld garden. They've always had a complex relationship with both the fashion show and -- at times -- with fashion itself. The show notes were pelted with urgent, scribbled fragments of text -- page after page of derisive, derogatory words, and lengthy love and hate lists (Loves: Ru Paul, Tavi, Pussy Riot, The Queen. Hates: censorship, Putin, homophobia, conformity) spliced with provocative, sexually charged images. That intensity boiled over into the clothes, too -- into a furious barrage of color and shape and detail. Female models wore candy-colored tailoring and flurries of chiffon; the boys were in fetish-sleek PVC and peekaboo superhero costumes. But they all shared a sense of bruised defiance; these were clothes filled with bravado, with rebellion, with confrontational power -- and with hurt.

On the last page of the show notes, there was a dedication to Vivienne Westwood – “forever indebted to your genius,” and acknowledging what they called her “obvious and undeniable” influence on the show. That influence was clear, particularly in the fluorescent scribbled-slogan t-shirts and billowing, patchworked shirting, the romantic sheer gowns punctured with lurid lacings, and the bedraggled jackets. But it was clearest of all in the way the designers used clothing to talk about the world. At Westwood's show on Sunday, the collection had a strong message also -- but it was applied on top of the collection, rather than woven through it. In Meadham Kirchhoff's case, though, the messages and the clothes were so intensely melded that you could barely tell them apart.

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