2012: FUCK YOU. That petulant kiss-off to the immediate past at the end of Meadham Kirchhoff's show credits was the cue for an extraordinarily autobiographical statement from London's favorite design duo. They clearly had a very bad 2012—the backdrop of black garbage bags symbolized, said Ed Meadham, "throwing away the shit of last year"—and the emotional fallout infected the presentation of their new men's collection. Set to the tremulous tune of Jacques Brel's "If You Go Away" and the soundtrack of Hitchcock's Vertigo, it was simultaneously a dark paean to devotion and a melancholic meditation on loss.
Earlier this week, the designers distributed a mood booklet that told a soldier's story. The loss may well have been life, as well as love. Either way, the tristesse cast a pall over the presentation. The way the models were paired and posed suggested close relationships about to be torn apart. "Man and boy," Kirchhoff murmured by way of explanation. The archaic, rustic-French flavor of the clothes supported the notion it was likely the First World War doing the tearing. There were odd echoes of a country priest's vestments in cotton smocks tattered into a kind of lace, a military sternness in pieces cut from black ciré…plus an unhealthy dose of the feyness that infects Meadham Kirchhoff's work.
The way the atmosphere was saturated to an intoxicating level with Penhaligon's Hammam Bouquet was reminiscent of the late artist Trojan's scent terrorism, and it's clear that, like Trojan, Ed and Ben have no intention of making their work—and their lives—easy for anyone, least of all themselves.