Scented pink show notes a la Elle Woods, hands dipped in glitter akin to your niece at playtime, and a front row featuring the likes of Princess Julia, Alexander Fury and Emma Elwick-Bates. Despite a December date, this was not a fashion heavy pantomime.
Instead the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Raphael Gallery bore witness to the 51st Fashion in Motion event, staged against a backdrop of tapestries acquired from the Royal Collection in 1865 – originally commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1515 – details that unlikely passed the designers at the helm, Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff, by.
With four Topshop collections and two Amazon collaborations to their name, both still in-store via the respective channels, the Meadham Kirchhoff label cannot be said to be inaccessible, despite the theatrics for which the pair are known.
Said theatrics – achieved on the day by a team including make-up artist Florrie White, hair stylist James Pecis and set designer Philip Wiegard – were the reason, presumably, for four ‘sold out’ shows; an opportunity to witness Meadham Kirchhoff magic firsthand, away from live streams, Instagram and the voice of industry insiders. Though, naturally, the latter fancied a piece of the action too.
Fashion in Motion brings high fashion – Yohji Yamamoto, Gareth Pugh and Vivienne Westwood are all former participants – to the general public, in a way no other platform achieves. Expect to see quality this high at Clothes Show Live? Think again. Plus, and most importantly, unlike Birmingham’s annual affair, Fashion in Motion is completely free, meaning it really can be consumed by all.
“It has been great to work with Ben and Ed,” The V&A’s Senior Curator of Contemporary Fashion, Oriole Cullen told Clash. “And we are really delighted to have been able to bring their work to our audiences. They were very understanding of the limitations and regulations that are involved in staging such an event within a museum.”
Speaking pre-show, the duo added, “When approaching every collection or garment we secretly hope to make something worthy of being seen in a museum, so for us it is an honour to present a show comprised of hand-picked pieces from our favourite collections.”
Apparent highlights of the pairs included the glitter tees of SS10, look 24 from SS11 and several other fluffy/sparkly/shiny/leather/monochrome/lacy combinations from seasons prior to and including, the most recent; SS14. Meadham Kirchhoff Remixed, if you will (as Susie Bubble did).
Hair and make-up, similarly mirrored a mash-up of former shows across four scenes, executed alongside Wiegard’s set featuring previous show invites, blown up Alice in Wonderland style, while former Blitz DJ Jeffrey Hinton took the musical reigns, serving up Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ for the grand finale.
Post-show, Cullen noted, “They have a strong group of followers so it was great to see some of their fans in the audience wearing their designs and staying to have their pictures taken in front of the set after the show.”
Fit for a digital age, the large backdrop and fashioned holidaymakers alike can be found across the web, via #fashioninmotion.
Having joined the ranks mentioned above, Clash wondered what it took for a label to be picked up by the Fashion in Motion crew. Meadham Kirchhoff is perhaps at the top of its game currently – strong collaborations, collective fandom, heavyweight names on the stockist list – but why them and why now?
“We are incredibly lucky that London is such a centre of talented designers,” explains Oriole. “As such we frequently work with London based designers, but we also feel its important to look to what is happening internationally and to keep the programme slightly unpredictable. The key thing is that the audience is often introduced to work they might not be familiar with.”
Cut to Fury’s post-show Tweet; “I really hope there were some random grannies at the Meadham show at the V&A who had no idea what the clothes were going to be like. Amaze.”
“We also think about designers who show their clothes in an interesting way,” continues the curator, “as we are asking them to react to the museum space by creating a show of their work which is unique and presented in a way that hasn't been seen before.”
Which sort of leaves the question, what took so long? Ed Meadham and Ben Kirchhoff are the perfect partners to Fashion in Motion, and Friday simply confirmed this.
Words: Zoe Whitfield
Not enough MK in that wardrobe? A Meadham Kirchhoff sample sale takes place this Saturday, 14th December at 295-297 Haggerston Road, from 12:00.
The current issue of Clash magazine is available now, with that M.I.A. on the cover.