As the catwalk-filled days and intoxicating hedonistic nights come to a close in New York City, the fashion set are surely grabbing their passports and clasping their monogrammed luxury bags in preparation for the journey across the pond to what has been coined the new hotbed for creativity and innovation in the biannual cycle of the fashion collections. This season, however, the absence of Meadham Kirchhoff, one of the most anticipated shows on the London calendar, will leave many fashion editors without their seasonal dose of whimsy, spectacle and unrepressed imagination. As we bid farewell to design duo Meadham Kirchhoff, PETRIe revisits the archive to when Editor-in-Chief, Zadrian Smith, interviewed Benjamin Kirchhoff and Edward Meadham in 'Melody of the Caged Birds'.
Zadrian Smith: What is one thing you learned from studying at CSM that still influences your work today?
Benjamin Kirchhoff: To be independent – not rely on anyone because nobody will do it for you and to have a strong belief in oneself.
Edward Meadham: No, I don’t think so. When I was at Saint Martins, I worked obsessively to try to teach myself technically to make a pattern and be able to construct, to push my ideas and my process, but in reality it took me years beyond leaving Saint Martins to actually get anywhere with those things. Being at Saint Martins teaches you tenacity I guess.
ZS: Is there a particular lecturer from CSM who you revere as a mentor? If so, why?
BK: No, you don’t go to Saint Martins for the staff. Frankly, they’re not the inspiration. We learned from working hard, from developing strong work ethics and from repetition.
EM: No, none of the teachers meant anything really; the (old) building and the general environment is the tuition.
ZS: What are the advantages and disadvantages of working as a design duo?
BK: Work load is shared in a way, and there’s also a dialogue between people who trust each other.
EM: The advantages are that I don’t have to speak to or meet anyone, and I don’t have to deal with bureaucracy or sales or production. The disadvantages are that I get committed to being involved in things which I hadn’t/wouldn’t necessarily agree to.
ZS: The fashion industry has labelled you as fashion feminists, anti-fashion and rebels of the industry. How do you feel about these labels and do they resonate with what you are doing as designers?
BK: That is the preoccupation of the industry – to put labels on designers. I couldn’t care less what people make of what we do or what we say or how we do things.
EM: Labels are pointless. People have the right to say, think and do as they please, but I try to keep myself as unaware as possible.
ZS: As designers, what do you believe is your role and responsibility to society?
EM: I have a responsibility only to myself, my sanity and the few people around me. That’s all.
ZS: Are you trying to convey any specific messages to society through your work?
BK: No, we’re desperately trying to please ourselves.
EM: Yes, definitely.
ZS: When starting a new collection, what is your creative process?
BK: Basic: research – design – show – suicide.
EM: Depression, blankness, research, depression, blankness, design, depression, blankness, make stress, depression, anxiety, show, blankness, depression, blankness, then it all begins again.
ZS: To date, what has been your biggest success as designers?
BK: Yet to be seen.
EM: So far there has been no success to speak of.
ZS: To date, what has been your biggest failure as designers?
BK: Doing this.
EM: Every season is a failure to a lesser or greater extent. The most recent collection (AW'13) Helter Skelter has to date been the biggest failure.
ZS: Many fashion designers, editors, theorists and academics have commented that the fashion industry is currently in a problematic state and in a sense destroying itself. Do you agree or disagree with this statement and why?
BK: Fashion is eating itself – that is its problem – we do what we do for our little audience and that is fine - we really don't want to preoccupy ourselves with the whole shebang.
EM: It seems as though nobody believes in fashion any more, not the designers or the stores. It is sad.
ZS: Do you envision that you will continue to be fashion designers for the larger part of your life?
BK: No comment.
EM: I have wasted my life up to this point trying to do this, or doing it. I would love more than anything to be able to do something else instead or be able to do this, but to be able to do it well.
ZS: What do you want your legacy to be within the fashion industry?
BK: No comment.
EM: I would like to leave something memorable, something which has some kind of effect. I would like clothes to end up in museums in 100 years.
ZS: If you could only accomplish one more goal in life, what would it be?
ZS: Final question, are you happy?
BK: Are you joking?
EM: I have just presented the second worst collection in fashion history. I am in the process of having to design another collection for something I never wanted to do, then a pre-collection, then another show collection. I am a total void and I want to die. Why ever would you ask us that!?
Archive: PETRIe 65
All clothes, shoes and tights throughout by Meadham Kirchhoff. Headpieces and Cuffs by Pebble London.
Photographer: Joanna Natalija Gourley
Words and Fashion Editor: Zadrian Smith
Creative Director and Set Designer: David Curtis-Ring
Models: Yan Feng @ Bookings Models, Karina and Manon @ IMG Models
Hair Stylists: Akio Hirasawa, MJ Tollo, Michael Pit'Sillides and Edith Bolonyi
Photographer's Assistant: Sean Hayes White
Fashion Assistants: Campbell Addy and Helen Vu
Set Designer' Assistants: Hazel Keane, Olivia Gray, Lucy Cooper, Eddie Hecht and Samatha Taylor
Special Thanks To: Edward Meadham, Benjamin Kirchhoff and Francesca Burns