Once again Eleanor came to the studio in the busy and chaotic days leading up to the show to cast her beautiful gaze over newly finished pieces and works in progress, capturing close-ups of: beaded and embroidered cutie bags…
Elizabethan blackwork embroidery…
delicate cutwork embroidery…
and my inspiration wall, which included a random mix of Jacobean and Elizabethan portraiture and lots and lots of Bowie.
I approached this collection in a kind of void. I didn’t want to do it after the total disaster of last season, when literally everything went wrong. I had completely lost belief in myself and my abilities. I felt like I was the worst designer in the world, and the most dreadful person in the world, as everyone I have known or loved has grown to hate me and stopped speaking to me (or vice versa). In lieu of warmth I decided to give myself entirely over to self-gratification and, more than ever, a love affair with clothes, shoes, bags, and fashion. It was from this frame of mind that this collection came—somewhere between Imelda Marcos and Cruella de Vil, absolute vanity and sartorial perfection.
In an era where almost everyone, everywhere, now has colored hair and tattoos and it is almost impossible to avoid being bombarded by studs and leather everywhere, the language of subculture has been adopted by and diluted into the fashion mainstream. It feels like these codes have lost their meaning and purpose, and the most subversive thing to do now is to be clean, neat, and perfectly matched and accessorized—dressed in the most beautiful things one can find.
I went to the David Bowie is exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum here in London and was surprised by how it affected me. Although I have always liked and admired David Bowie, I had never had a Bowie “moment.” But going to this exhibition and seeing all of those costumes and all of that album art gathered together, I realized how much of an impact this incredible man had had on my life, and I became OBSESSED—particularly with his Thin White Duke/The Man Who Fell to Earth period, when he stripped away all of the early-’70s Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane glam drag and re-emerged looking cold and removed in crisp white shirts with immaculate tailoring, beautiful hats, and one of the best hairstyles in history. He somehow appeared even more extreme in this guise of ordinary perfection than he had in his Ziggy-era alien wear.
I also became fascinated by Bowie’s interest in the occult and the writings of Aleister Crowley. I could not stop listening to his 1980 album, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).
This is the first collection I have ever done where I have not drawn a complete lineups of all the looks beforehand. I did of course sketch out some ideas in my little notebook as reminders for myself to know what to do, but I didn’t ever draw it in its usual entirety. I think I was too afraid—I thought that if I didn’t have a big grand visual plan, I would be less disappointed when it didn’t work out. The only drawing I made this season was this ribbon-writing artwork. “God” refers to a false deity; “Boddah” = Kurt Cobain’s childhood imaginary friend; “Velvet” is my teddy bear, and “mother” stands for holy comfort. Together the phrase is a plea to be rescued, a prayer to all those things that people put believe and find comfort in. I think my eternal message is “Believe in yourself.” I called the collection Ante Dominae (which apparently is a misspelling—oops!), by which I mean anti-society, anti–mainstream culture. Do want you want, create your own alternative, your own narrative, and your own set of codes and morals.
I LOVE this picture! This is my Prada kitty bag, which has kept me entertained and comforted on bad days. My kitties have moved out of the studio and into my new house, but when I miss them I can stroke this bag instead. On top are my ever-present sunglasses, which act like blinkers to shield and protect me from vile men (and sometimes women) who harass me constantly on the street as I’m walking to work. I need to redecorate my office, though—I am bored with this orange and turquoise.
The show this season went so smoothly I could hardly believe it. The last week of making the collection, leading up to the show, was one of the calmest, best-organized, and most pleasant experiences that we had. There were, as usual, lots of things that went wrong and lots of things I was attempting that didn’t make it into the final show, but we actually made lots of really lovely things, and I am (unusually) really happy with the result. There wasn’t anything new or groundbreaking in the collection, but I am proud that what we presented was very classic Meadham Kirchhoff, and very well executed. I haven’t felt this way since our spring 2011 collection.
With this collection I have done something in which I cannot spot any mistakes or wonkiness, and that I am actually proud of. Here is a video of the show; unfortunately they replaced the music we used, made for us (as usual) by Jefferey Hinton, with something completely banal, but I hope you enjoy looking at the visual part of the show. And of course I hope you loved looking at Eleanor’s beautiful images! ♦