February 21, 2011 London
The reasons for this speed march, at least, became clear after the show. As Ed Meadham explained, a main theme of this collection was uniforms and uniformity, and so it only made sense to show the clothes in a horde. "There's not much to these looks," Meadham added. "They didn't require being seen one by one."
We'll take issue with that. Ben Kirchhoff and Ed Meadham are deep in their simplicity, and their clothes this season were as rigorously strange as usual. The designers essentially jettisoned the crinkled silks of the past two seasons and invested themselves in bouclé wool—a nod to Chanel that was relatively self-evident on the runway and then affirmed by the designers backstage. There were also takes on school uniforms (little black wool dresses and pinafores) and peasant tops and dresses. It was hard to read the detail in the clothes from the lickety-split runway procession, but that hardly meant it was lacking. There was a ton of hand embroidery, especially in the peasant looks and pinafore blouses, and the wools and knits were subjected to Meadham Kirchhoff's signature meticulous unfinishing. Looking at these pieces again, up close, after the show, you couldn't help but wish the duo had given them their individual due.
But there's no point in resenting designers for the same reasons that you love them. Meadham and Kirchhoff come to their work with an intellectual seriousness all too rare among emerging designers, and they commit themselves utterly to their ideas. If that means messing with the useful conventions of the catwalk show, so be it.