“It’s finished,” said the bouncer on the door at Meadham Kirchhoff’s AW13 menswear presentation, “You missed it by 30 seconds.” “Can I go and look at the debris?”, I replied, having noticed the stacks of bin bags making up the set, hinting at something quite apocalyptic inside. Flashing an obviously rare smile, he stepped back to let me in.
I was fortunate: the models were still standing in place to facilitate a last-minute photo shoot, the designers themselves passing me on their way out. Meadham Kirchhoff’s presentation last season was my favourite experience at the first London Collections: Men, hence my keenness not to miss the follow up. That mad squat filled with the scent of over-blown blooms, boys with pink hair and visibly alarmed fashion editors keeping half an eye on the open door, was, for me, a brilliant summing up of what I love most about London fashion: the confrontation, the glorious, finely-tuned mess of it all.
The models were positioned like stranded, Byronic dandies within the aformentioned apocalypse. If the setting in SS13 was like walking in on one hell of a night before, the scene here was less recognisable but suggested abandonment and desolation, a makeshift camp with burning candles being the only visible sign of comfort amongst the bags and wooden palettes. As with last season’s presentation however, it doesn’t take long to be struck by the sheer artistry of the clothes themselves, their elegance only heightened by the smouldering bin bags around them. Beading on a yellow coat and toreador jacket, elaborate Edwardian high-waisted trousers and shiny black rubber/vinyl pieces suggested the clash of past luxury and contemporary urban reality. This heady vision is pushed to further extremes by stylist Matthew Josephs not least through the casting of some of London’s most extraordinary models. No one quite works the sense of drama like the boys in a Meadham Kirchhoff presentation, with smouldering looks verging on the coquettish, these boys could (and probably would) bore holes in you.
In the end, arriving with just enough time to witness the final moments of this fleeting drama (the very epitome of a fashion ‘installation’) felt quite appropriate. As the boys stretched themselves after an hour or two’s posing and filed out, musical director Jeffrey Hinton pulled the (literal) plug on the soundtrack, just as Bette Davis was uttering her immortal lines from the end of Now Voyager about not wishing for the stars.