Here is the chaos of my drawn-out lineup before the show! It literally felt like a miracle that we ended up with a collection, more than any other time. We killed more dresses and looks than ever. This lineup was a constantly changing, amorphous entity this season. The Post-it notes refer to what I thought we would keep in the end.
I gave myself a nightmare, because almost the entire collection was embroidered—all of the shoes and boots, and almost all of the clothes. There was a point right at the end when it seemed as though none of the embroidery was going to arrive in time. A lot of it didn’t make it, in fact, but enough did, so it was OK.
We got this jewelry from Lilien-Czech.
Here I was trying to arrange a color story out of paint swatches.
A corner of inspiration around my pattern table.
This image of Courtney Love is there all year. She never moves. She wasn’t specifically an inspiration for this collection.
Madame de Pompadour, ’60s couture, 18th century quilting, Boucher paintings.
Amazing old Dior couture, and Roger Vivier shoes and boots, which were the starting point of this collection. I wanted only the most amazing, intricate, beautiful, elaborate, decadent, ridiculous things. I have always been obsessed with embroidered shoes, those Roger Vivier for Dior ones in particular. This season we made our own shoes for the first time, and I really wanted our first exercise in shoemaking to attempt something really refined and classic.
Another inspiration for this collection was a documentary I saw about the auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels—it told the story of where the jewels came from, from whom, and when. I got sooooo jealous. I wanted huge, sparkling diamonds! It set me on a summer of clanking around in jewelry.
The universe of Meadham Kirchhoff has not been a happy place for the past 12 months. It’s been an impossible summer in every way. I wanted this collection to just take me away; I wanted a real visual escape and a fantasy. I wasn’t interested in a message or a meaning; I just wanted to see and feel beauty. I wanted the idea of dressing to make oneself feel better, to feel as fine and bejeweled and glittering and frothy and delightful as possible. I wanted everything to be the most exquisite and decorated that it could be.
This is the wall outside my office and the back of the window in my office, where I keep images of things I always want to see.
An alternative version of my collection drawings, showing some things that didn’t end up happening.
Here on my ever-messy office desk you can see a pile of jewelry I had taken off in the middle of the night and left on my desk, a throwing-up singlet, and a drawing of a dress that never happened.
I always put a lot of thought into the invitations to our shows. I think they are really important, and anyway I just really enjoy doing stuff with paper, as opposed to clothes. This one was really cool; it might be my favorite so far. It’s a gilded cage; when you pull the string it opens up to reveal a girl on fire. It’s a basic metaphor for how I feel about my life.
I made a monogram, MK, written in ribbon and photographed on satin. We used this as the invitation artwork. You can also see drawings for more dresses that never happened.
Our assistant Daisy’s mess room, with font artwork and more of my drawings.
This is a collage I made for a special Olympics-themed T-shirt that Net-a-Porter asked us to do for them. It said “Make Love Not Sport” on it.
Artwork for the fabrics we had woven for us.
Daisy’s mess room. We asked M.A.C. to give us some makeup to use as decorations for the show. Daisy painted all of it to look pretty and to match the over-decorated cakelike thing everything else had. We scattered it amongst all the flowers and the cakes.
An unfinished test show and some beading that would become a pair of gloves.
This looks so beautiful to me. It’s beaded lilac silk tulle and a yellow sleeve.
These would become a pair of shoe heels. This is how the embroidery comes to us, then Daisy and I make the artwork with instructions as to how the beads should look, then it comes back as embroidered panels that we cut out to assemble into garments or, in this case, shoes.
Ooh, I love this. It’s a close-up of a quilted embroidered corset. The quilting is minuscule.
The hem of a long quilted satin skirt, and the gold fabric we had woven for us. We never do digital printing, because it always looks so flat and depressing.
Last summer we made these really nice pointelle stockings and tights; this season I covered them in crystals.
The back of a quilted and embroidered little corset thing. It’s black, and against the yellow it’s unfortunately impossible to photograph so that you can see the quilted design.
This is one of my kitties, Cornelius. Doesn’t he look handsome?
Tony Hornecker made us such a lovely set. I wanted it to feel almost like a painting. De Gournay loaned us some of their beautiful hand-painted wallpapers. I have had a de Gournay fetish for years!
I was endlessly disappointed to find out these cakes were made of polystyrene. The icing was edible, though, so the models would lick it as they walked past. I was hoping I could keep them after the show, as they were soooo expensive, but butter icing and polystyrene doesn’t really sound like a good idea to have sitting around the house—especially with three greedy kitties.
My lookboard. Our poor assistant Daisy is our fitting model, and it took so so so sooooo long to get her dressed in all of the looks, with each look having all of the bows and like at least 12 pieces of jewelry plus ribbons to attach in the hair and everywhere else. When we arrived backstage for the show it was total chaos. It felt entirely farcical. Eleanor, I cannot believe you managed to get such good pictures.
The embroidered hem of a pair of bloomers.
And this is the rest of that look: a little white denim corset top, a polka-dot pin-tucked chiffon dress, and an embroidered bra.
This makes me so proud. My assistant Gabby and I worked so hard for so long to make these shoes happen. Everything pointed toward their not happening; I cried with relief when Gabby sent me the first pictures from the factory of actual shoes.
This girl looks golden.
For the makeup this season I wanted the girls to really look like girls, and not over-paint their faces.
I wanted a really natural-looking rosy-cheeked complexion, which Florrie White, the makeup artist we have worked with for years, does so well.
We added little tiny crystals randomly to the models’ skin. I always want everything to be as glittery as possible. This season in particular, I wanted everything to be dripping with jewels and twinkling.
Nail Rock has been making our nail decals for the past few seasons. This time we asked them for jeweled fingernails.
I love this skirt and boots. They are made from the gold baroque fabric we had woven for us.
This jacket is called Seraphim.
These bows were getting an adjustment.
I love ringlets.
One of the quilted embroidered corsets and “NO” jumpers. Her eyebrows looks so good!
This is one of my favorite looks from the show.
Nasir Mazhar made us such beautiful hats this season, and the florist Nikki Tibbles from Wild at Heart made us these lovely floral pieces which sat underneath the hats and padded out the hips on many of the looks.
Eleanor loved this girl!
She looks like Martha Plimpton.
And she looks like Princess Diana.
This is the result of a manic rush—that bow is not stitched on in the right place. It’s a shame, because this could have been so nice. I love these gloves, though.
The quilting looks so delicious on the underside of this hat.
Ooh, I love these socks, with the crocheted flowers and bobbles, and the quilted shoe. I just wonder, exactly why is that flower on the floor?!
You can see the flowers here peeking out from under her beaded waistcoat.
This outfit looked so nice on Daisy, but not so good here in the show, which is annoying. Not my favorite look.
We worked very hard on this plaited, pleated pannier-hipped dress. It went a bit wrong at the very last minute, but it looks OK here.
Well, they look like they are having a nice time, don’t they! I wish she would do up her jacket!
This looks so pretty, with all of the gold and white together.
I don’t know who put those flowers on her head; they were never meant to be there.
I love this—all of the blue and pink, like the painting of Madame de Pompadour on my wall.
Nasir did such a great job with the hats.
These pink-and-blue beaded taffeta boots with pink bows are some of my favorites.
I am so pleased that this look happened. It all came together very, very last-minute, but I am glad I got at least one red dress into the collection. The beading on this is incredible.
My favorite shoe/stocking combination from the show.
This is what became of the yellow-beaded lilac tulle that was being backed in the picture from the studio.
The red-and-white skirt in the back in this picture is the only bit that turned up of what I call “explosion beading”’—it is so sparkly in real life.
I love this white quilted and embroidered satin coat dress. It’s called Elizabeth, worn with a crystal-and-pearl-embroidered hat, gloves, and trousers.
Again the white and gold. I always love white.
She was loving all the attention with that cake.
She looks kind of like Glenn Close in Dangerous Liasons.
We’re watching a rehearsal here. You can see Benjamin Kirchhoff and me, with our hairstylist James Pecis, and our makeup artist Florrie White. Next to us are Tim and Rosie, our casting people.
I hate that T-shirt, and her hat is on backwards.
Backstage was such chaos and we were given so little time to get the models dressed that I had to fasten buttons on this look in the dark as the poor model was literally being dragged and pushed onstage, so it’s entirely crooked, the bows are all over the place, and half the buttons are not fastened (and the ones that are are mostly in the wrong place).
This is one of the first looks that I drew that made me understand what I wanted to do with this collection. It looks almost exactly how I wanted it to.
I love this jacket. If you look at it from the side it looks really sad—it is sort of banana shaped, it has a really round back and really curved front, so it’s really hunchy. It is basically a jacket to fit my posture. I am having one made as I write this; I can’t wait for it.