“These are some photos of the world that I come from,” so says Ja’mie in her assembly presentation to Summer Heights High. But this phrase could easily be re-appropriated to the Meadham Kirchhoff models - “these are some dresses from the world that I come from”. I have to let each Meadham Kirchhoff collection sit for a couple of days like a chicken out of the oven, because this “world” can change its façade so much, and I need a quiet adjustment period to get my head around it. It is not something that can be pinpointed to one place, after all, Meadham Kirchhoff’s inspirations come from anywhere and everywhere – Indian princes, queens of France, bloggers in Chicago, and what appear to be some kind of tropical jungle mermaid snakes according to their latest collection, with its holographic snakeskin boots, skirts and jackets.
Meadham Kirchhoff are honest – there is no watering-down for their audience, and no half-heartedness for the customer. Every piece is delicately laboured over, whether a hand-embroidered slip dress, hand-beaded handbag, a bouclé wool suit of the caliber to rival Chanel at the very least, or a tulle veil so transparent and lithe it looks almost fluid-like. Even the gold foil coats from last season were real snakeskin, which I could only believe when Ben Kirchhoff assured me himself. Their new collection, Chapter 6 of Edward’s ongoing “A Cosmology of Women” entitled “Tralala”, is so called after the namesake perfume they have been developing with Penhaligon’s for over two years, which is to be released, finally, around April this year. “The most impressive people I’ve ever met, I smelled them before I saw them,” Edward told i-D magazine.
The invitation was scented as usual, but this season as a result, with their own gorgeously intoxicating fragrance, along with the vast Turbine Hall where the collection was shown. I was lucky to steal a seat on the rather ridiculously long front row, which was accompanied by a party bag containing a bottle of Tralala – unsurprisingly, it smells exquisite and sort of timeless, in the same way as the Hermès Bel Ami I have to resist spraying over myself on an almost hourly basis, since it has been discontinued.
The collection itself felt like a remix of many older styles, with the new addition of some amazing velvet dresses which seemed to have walked straight out of a 1960′s sci-fi series, particularly with the accompanying clompy metallic boots. The tweed looks, which I was not so fond of by a substantial margin, were still beautifully made, while the svelte white bags of SS14 had bulged into AW14 in vivid primary colours, embroidered with fancy hatted chickens and bulldogs rather than the kitsch bears and lambs of before. Everything throbbed with the intensity of AW12, the disco season, and I momentarily forgot that this was a fall collection entirely, just as I had with the largely black-and-white counterintuitive palette of SS14.
There were looks that could never tire – the infinitely layered outfits like blooming sea creatures that were reminiscent of SS11, long buttoned wool skirts, and of course the details – MK gold buttons, for example – to go with the newer developments such as the most amazing black patent leather coat and of course the velvets. While this collection seemed a little less coherent than previous ones, it proposed new ideas of the Meadham Kirchhoff look, which it seems Edward is steering towards the elegance and slight old-worldiness of Chanel. After all, he has been more than open about his desire to take over at the house, not least when I interviewed him last year for Scratch Magazine ["I want to do Chanel, actually, that's what I've always wanted to do"], and I really couldn’t see a more perfect fit myself. In fact, there is nothing more I want for them, (apart from maybe a London store to make regular pilgrimages to).
It seems as if Edward was atypically satisfied with this season too, telling a Dazed correspondent: “This is the first collection that I wasn’t sad, or angry, or wanted to stab my eyes out”. The models, however, still maintained attitudes that transitioned between verging-on-gormless (in some cases) and utterly withdrawn and disinterested in others – underneath, they haven’t really changed at all.