Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,
It's only been two seasons since Meadham Kirchhoff have unleashed their menswear collections on the fashion industry, but already, just as with their offerings for womenswear, the designs are impossible to overlook.
A/W 13 was an Edwardian-influenced, headband-wearing, grungy-living gentleman, bin bags and all. One half of the design duo, Benjamin Kirchhoff sat down to discuss collection prologues, the brand's ongoing collaboration with Penhaligon's and his fascination with heroes.
Who was the one male style icon you admired while growing up?
I don't think I ever thought about it at that time. I was quite introverted and shy and didn't really look up to anyone.
How did the setting and the title 'Please!' fit in with the message you were trying to convey this season?
"Let me get what I want".
What inspired you to do a fanzine for the presentation of this collection?
It wasn't meant as a fanzine as such, but I wanted a pre-emptive narrative to the collection, like a prologue in a book or a play. I thought a lot about the last year and all the crap that accompanied it and wanted to tell the story of a man/boy/soldier preparing for combat and all that came with it — goodbyes, intensity of moments, longing for something that is about to go or has gone. I've been fascinated by the idea of heroes.
How important are contrasts and contradictions in your work?
It's entirely about contrast and contradiction.
How does the design process differ for your menswear collections?
It's only season 2 (round 2), so it's difficult to point down exactly. It's still a figuring out process.
What kind of man do you see wearing your designs?
Who ever wants it. I always say that as soon as the show has happened and the clothes are in store they don't belong to us anymore, they should be left alone for someone to discover and react to. How people wear them, who they are, what they do with them is not my prerogative.
How do you see the incorporation of feminine elements in your pieces?
I don't know if I do it intentionally, but some of the techniques are more traditionally feminine. I don't really see sense in separating gender/ sex when it comes to clothes, it's The Man's problem to see evil in boys wearing girls' clothes.
You collaborated with Penhaligon's on a scent for your installation. How did this season's scent help express your vision and what is it about perfume that compels you to use it for the presentation of your collections?
Every element of the shows is part of a sensory experience, so the smell is intrinsic to the shows. Hammam Bouquet is Penhaligon's first ever scent and it still confuses people. The rose is very pungent and there's the overly male/ animalistic accents of the civet. It just seemed appropriate. It's also my favourite smell, the one I always go back to.
Two seasons in, how has the feedback for your menswear been and how do you hope to develop your brand for the seasons to come?
Who can say...it is only 2 seasons. The reactions seem good, but I have a problem trusting reactions. 11 years in doing this has taught us to be cautious.
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