I feel that I should start this review with a warning: I openly admit that, at the end of watching Meadham Kirchhoff’s Spring/Summer 2014 women’s wear fashion show on 17 September 2013 (the last day of London Fashion Week), I joined those who stood up to fervently and emotionally applaud what we had just witnessed. Furthermore, I confess my partiality towards the work of Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff by being upfront in my conviction that their latest collection was a rare display of creative genius worthy of a place in the history of fashion as one of its most magical manifestations of beauty and creativity.
Named ‘Ante Dominai’ (a typo for ‘Ante Domini’ – “the time before God” – or an intentional anglicised bastardisation of the word ‘Domini’ to conflate the idea of domination with the belief in a superior religious being?), the collection brought together sartorial tropes from different historical periods to engender a celebration of fashion and femininity. As in previous collections, references to Elizabethan and Jacobean clothing (namely in the colour palette and in the shapes chosen for some of the sleeves and collar cuts) were combined with Edwardian lace dresses and girlish school uniforms and short A-line dresses from the 1930s and 40s.
However, for their Spring/Summer 2014 collection, Meadham Kirchhoff improved on these references by underpinning the runway presentation of the garments with a subdued amalgamation of Pre-Raphaelite and Amish aesthetics combined with refined elements of painstakingly elaborate couture, such as vampish lace negligees, deconstructed Chanel suits, floor-length skirts in intricate floral patterns, bejewelled lace bodices and skirts, and stunning snakeskin coats in gold or black treatments.
Without a shadow of a doubt, this was Meadham Kirchhoff’s most accomplished collection to date. Once again, the talented duo conjured staggering creations as a result of an emotionally intelligent gathering of the most seductive silhouettes, best fabrics and most skilful sartorial techniques that ever existed throughout the history of women’s fashion. And what ultimately confirmed Meadham Kirchhoff’s outstanding ingenuity was the process in which such refined influences were treated as gossamery strata of beauty delicately layered onto the garments to create an exquisite palimpsest narrative about femininity.