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Dark Shadows

If the cancan dancers and disco lights of recent seasons saw Meadham Kirchhoff turn to cheerfulness, the ascetic splendour of their autumn/ winter 2013 collection re-established the duo’s sinister signature. by Anders Christian Madsen / photography Nik Hartley

Few designers can boast a cult following quite like that of Meadham Kirchhoff. Over the past seasons, the London-based designer duo’s at once frivolous and austere, couturelike work has captivated the (often young) hearts of more than a few admirers, who dream themselves away in the magnetic veil of mystery, which surrounds Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff. After graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2002, the designers founded a menswear label before re-establishing themselves as Meadham Kirchhoff in 2006. Last season, in their gloomiest and most emotional show to date, Ed and Ben’s darkly romantic autumn/ winter 2013 collection took the British/French masterminds’ world of wonderment to a new, practically religious level. Anders Christian Madsen: Somebody asked me if I was scared to come and interview you. Edward Meadham: Everybody thinks we’re really awful. We’re both really miserable and sometimes really moody, and we say what’s on our mind at that time, but mostly we’re horrible about ourselves more than anything else. Benjamin Kirchhoff: It also has to be understood that what we say at that time doesn’t necessarily reflect the bigger picture of what we think. EM: We really hate doing interviews and half the time people are really fucking retarded, and you can tell what they want you to be. So I just get really defensive. Everybody thinks we’re much scarier than maybe we are, but obviously it’s impossible for us to tell how scary we are. I don’t like people; I’m not very good at being friendly to


people and I just don’t know what to say to people in a social context. People make of it what they apparently make of it. I don’t really care. ACM: When you do interviews, are there questions you wish people would ask you instead of the questions you do get asked? EM: There are questions I wish people wouldn’t ask us. I hate being asked when we met, how we met, and why we started working together. At one point it felt like our personal story was no longer our personal story, but a story for magazines. It’s easier now because Ben is doing the menswear and I’m doing the womenswear, but for years everybody wanted to know how we divided our roles and that became really uncomfortable. ACM: Why did you call the autumn/winter 2013 collection Helter Skelter? EM: Well, it’s a Beatles song, but Siouxsie did a version and the lyric is, “When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide,” and that’s sort of a reflection of my brain. It’s like an endless cycle. The collection felt a bit like going back to the fucking beginning. ACM: Why did you choose not to use any props in your show this time? EM: We didn’t really choose to. It was worked into the show contract that we basically weren’t allowed to do anything. Everyone tries to make it as hard as possible for us to do something. ACM: Everyone seemed to read into the lack of props. EM: Everyone read into the whole collection and


not a single aspect of the collection was a choice. It was all a mistake, and the whole collection was wrong several thousand times over and that was just what was left. I haven’t read the reviews because I don’t want to know anything about it, and I haven’t looked at the collection since, but everybody seemed to want to think it was some kind of statement of maturity, which it wasn’t. ACM: If it hadn’t gone wrong what would it have been? EM: Nothing like what it was like. There was gonna be some colors and textures and... I won’t even describe what it was because it’s just too depressing. But what it became was not by anyone’s limited imagination a choice. ACM: Do you feel as if you belong in the fashion industry? EM: There’s that line in Pretty in Pink when Andie is in the headmaster’s office, and he says to her, “If you send out signals you don’t wanna belong, people will make sure you don’t.” And she says, “That’s a beautiful theory.” That’s how I’ve always felt about everything, to be honest. Probably less the fashion industry than the general world. ACM: Do you feel welcome in the industry? EM: There’s an interviewer who I actually fucking hate, who came to interview us. I think he’s got this massive stick up his bum about us. I think he hates me and us and it, and I think he has those feelings because he thinks we hate fashion and he loves fashion. But contrary to how I am perceived and probably how I come across, I do in fact love fashion. But I hate the fascism of fashion. It

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