We dissect the fanzine inspired by feminist, punk and queer culture that the designers gave out at their groundbreaking SS15 show
In order to get to Meadham Kirchhoff’s SS15 show, you had to walk through a Soho record store past a few confused-looking men in hoodies thumbing through vinyl. Once you made it through the bewildered glances, you came upon a basement draped with fabrics, kitsch and the ever-potent smell of the label’s collaboration with Penhaligon: their Tralala perfume. If anything in the world could be a perfect analogy, this would be it; for their SS15 collection, Meadham Kirchhoff has firmly and clearly expressed the impact that punk music and riot grrrl has had on their creative output like never before – and dragged us with them through the archives.
Upon each of the seats (constructed out of what seemed to be carpeting underlay held together with zip ties) lay a reimagination of a nineties fanzine, replacing the standardised print outs of production credits and PR shtick with collaged, hand-penned photocopies. Inside were scrawled lists of Meadham Kirchhoff’s loves and hates (loves: Kathleen Hanna, Lydia Lunch, Leigh Bowery, Michael Clarke, hates: Terry Richardson, men who drive white vans, Paul Hollywood, model agents) alongside lists of obscenities (scrub, munter, slag, pussy / batty boy, shirt lifter, bender… and what?) During a season that has so far shown that the 90s fashion that the boys usually do so well is still sticking around on even the most commercial of runways, Meadham Kirchhoff marked themselves apart by reminding us all what grunge, club kid and punk fashion was truly borne of: politics.
When Vivienne Westwood (“It would be wrong of me to not acknowledge the obvious and undenial influence that Dame Westwood has had on this collection. Forever indebted to yr genius”) started in the 70s, it was with punk legend Malcolm McLaren – to “put a spoke in the system”. When BodyMap launched in Camden Market in the 80s, they designed outfits for the anti-establishment social revolution amidst queer club kids. When Kathleen Hanna formed Bikini Kill in the 90s, it was with an open fury at misogyny expressed through raucous music and angrily scrawled pamphlets distributed at punk shows.
What Meadham Kirchhoff seemed to be doing for SS15 was referencing and celebrating the historic medley of subcultures that they align themselves with – while explicitly condemning the problematic elements of an industry that can sometimes thrive on female oppression. Opened and closed by feminist artist Arvida Byström, the show was a street-cast celebration of different bodies, genders and races walking aggressively to a soundtrack by Jeffrey Hinton heavily featuring the word cunt. “REJECT EVERYTHING” they instructed. “FREEDOM IS NOT REALITY”.
“Opened and closed by feminist artist Arvida Byström, the show was a street-cast celebration of different bodies, genders and races.”
An amalgamation of rubber, new-romantic chiffon, colour and layered drapery made for an overall collection that might terrify buyers but was passionately enthusiastic about counter-cultural icons and the liberation that they stand for. Because fashion doesn’t just have to be about seasonal trends; it can, at its best, be a broader reflection of society and, like riot grrrl, BodyMap, Westwood and Leigh Bowery before them, Meadham Kirchhoff is making clothes for the people they love: the dykes, fags, slappers and freaks.
It takes a pretty strong conviction to condemn one of the world’s most celebrated fashion photographers, LVMH (“Fuk LVMH corporate fashion”) and celebrity culture in your show notes when you’re working in an industry that often relies on them. But when their collection “is dedicated to two women who have revolutionised my pitiful existence: Ms Viv Albertine (I am in love) and Little Ms Trojan” rather than Cara Delevingne and Terry Richardson, it seems clear that Meadham Kirchhoff’s primary motivations lie elsewhere – and that’s fucking fantastic.
Watch an exclusive film behind the scenes of Meadham Kirchhoff's SS15 show below: