Topshop are known for always keeping the somewhat generic shopping experience fresh and exciting and with their latest concept, Secret Store, a hidden pop-up space in the Oxford Circus and New York, customers will be stumbling across specially created pieces by a range of designers. A quirky little florist, curated by Meadham Kirchhoff, in the corner of the Lower Ground Floor, cleverly disguises a door leading to the Secret Store.
The space has been transformed into a specially designed boutique filled with designer collaborations from the likes of Michael Van Der Ham, Nasir Mazhar and Pamela Love. The temporary feature will be around for two weeks from 26 May with selected lines available online at topshop.com. We caught up with Mazhar and the London-based design duo, Meadham Kirchhoff, to find out more about their jewellery designs, the new line of clothing for the collaboration and what they are up to next.
Dazed Digital: How did you get into millinery?
Nasir Mazhar: I was building constructions to try and and make hair do things that it couldn’t possibly do alone. These constructions then slowly turned into headpieces themselves. That’s when I started to think about headwear and started to work for Mark Wheeler who is a theatrical costume maker. This was the beginning of my hat making career, and everything else grew and developed from there.
DD: What inspired the headdress designs you made for Topshop?
Nasir Mazhar: They are a continuation from the headbands and tiaras I made for Meadham Kirchhoff’s SS11 collection, but with some twists and changes.
DD: What up and coming projects are you working on?
Nasir Mazhar: I can’t really say at the moment, so let’s just say a few for now, but I’m very excited!
DD: What is your favourite type of hat to make and why?
Nasir Mazhar: I don’t have a particular type, but I like it when I get a brief and am then given the freedom to do as I like within it. The more experimental the brief the better, because I get to make something I haven’t seen before.
Dazed Digital: How did you come up with the idea for your jewellery gift sets for the Secret Store?
Ben Kirchhoff: Well boxes with a tonne of stuff inside it is a very pleasant thing to have and own. We thought it was a good idea to have it filled with decorative items.
Edward Meadham: It was inspired by the heart-shaped box filled with little dolls and pinecones and tiny little spells that courtney love gave to her husband-to-be before they were together. The box we did wasn't just supposed to be jewellery, there was going to be a mix of lovely little things inside like hairclips and tiny plastic dolls.
DD: Did you enjoy curating the florist?
Ben Kirchhoff: Yes immensely. We ended up designing the front of the store, hand-painting most of the pots and jars, going to the market to choose the blooms etc. It was a great learning curve and it made me want to do more of it.
Edward: It’s been a long process but I am really excited to see it all together and finished. The test-runs we have done so far look so exciting and beautiful, I hope it does on Wednesday too.
DD: Tell us a bit about your inspiration for the clothing line you produced for Topshop last month.
Ben Kirchhoff: Girls, girls, girls. More, more, more.
Edward Meadham: I thought the collection was going to coincide with the flower store when i designed it - they are both the same thing in my mind. It was about the idea of maximilisim and anti-prescribed good taste.
DD: How did you become a part of Topshop's NewGen scheme?
Ben Kirchhoff: Slowly, and by working hard continuously for 6 years.
Edward Meadham: yes very, very slowly, and through the process of application.
DD: What's it like working as a design duo?
Ben Kirchhoff: I know no other way of working. This is what we've been doing pretty much since we met 10 years ago.
Edward Meadham: Ditto
DD: What up and coming projects are you currently working on?
Ben Kirchhoff: Never you mind!
Edward Meadham: We have been working on the flower store quite intensely since the last show, and after this we begin a secret project. After that we are going on our first ever holiday, and after that we will begin the next collection.