Reading the invitation before the show, the words ‘Helter Skelter’ jumped out. What tricks had Meadham Kirchhoff got up their sleeve this time? A fair ground ride? Had they been inspired by ‘Helter Skelter’ the song written by Paul McCartney? Or was it ‘Helter Skelter’ the 1976 film based on the investigation and trial of Charles Manson?
None of the above. Edward Meadham, dressed backstage in the show’s black and white palette, (arms full of pearl and diamante bracelets, patent ballet pumps on his feet) said: ‘I was thinking about perfection, being the perfect homemaker.’ He went on to say that a former friend had slighted him by complaining that he was ‘vacuous’ because of his passion for clothes, jewellery and particularly shoes – ‘I’m obsessed with shoes,’ he said. ‘But I think it’s ok to be shallow.’
‘Shallow rather than hollow,’ cut in Ben Kirchhoff.
‘People want to trivialise women’s interests,’ continued Meadham, ‘I bake all the time; keep my home clean. I’m obsessed with perfection; that’s what got me going in the first place,’ he said.
So for autumn / winter 2013, Meadham Kirchhoff stripped away, cleaned up, focused on their ‘intrinsic taste and what really matters’, and sent out one of their most accomplished collections to date.
Picture pristine black and white. Crisp maid’s uniforms or spotless princess sailor dresses were rendered in multiple proportions and fabrications – cotton, knit and rubber. They really went to town with the rubber, liquid-shiny and wipe-clean; they let rip with frills, from a single ripple on the hem of a trouser, to the edges of aprons and pinafores, before exploding at the hem of a full skit.
In the mix were real clothes – neat skirt suits, elegant coats with skirt-pleat-flaps, skinny trousers, dresses with spotless white bibs in sheeny birds-eye jacquard, pure white lace smocks, patent jackets and some of the most romantic long dresses ever to grace a Meadham Kirchhoff catwalk. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if a brave young actress dared to wear look 23, a flesh-pale vintagey number with perky sleeves that fell in ribbons down the arms and pooled on the floor in a train edged in fine black lace, to the Oscars? How elegant, individual and refreshing that would be.
Of course, Meadham Kirchhoff always do real clothes, it’s just that sometimes they can be hard to spot. Not so this season.