Remembering Meadham Kirchoff’s Campy 2012 Runway Show


 

Sometimes iconic moments in fashion history are gone before you have the chance to appreciate them. Nothing COOL Can Stay looks back on a bygone trend, era, photo, or moment in the industry that deserves further reflection. This week, COOLS contributor Kelsey Lawrence looks back at the perfectly campy aesthetic of Meadham Kirchoff’s Spring 2012 runway show. 

 

Searching “Meadham Kirchoff” on Google Images makes me smile. There are the usual internet articles—listicles and news pieces and Vogue runway collections—but there are also remnants of a previous era of fashion fandom that’s hard to find now. There are images from blogs with URLs like sweetnrawme.wordpress.com and kingdomofstyle.typepad.co.uk, and Style Rookie, Tavi Gevinson’s since-shuttered blog.

 

Meadham Kirchhoff, started by British punk designers Edward Meadham and Ben Kirchoff in 2005, is one of the most missed fashion labels. Until they filed for bankruptcy in 2015 (escapism and joy can be hard to sustain), they were exuberant and eccentric, campy and fun, but never empty of character. Their 2012 show was the pinnacle of not only these things, but of that bygone era of fashion enthusiasm in the form of bedroom-collage-cum-blog. It was a Busby Berkeley spectacular of a show, with flavors of Drop Dead Gorgeous and a small-town pageant.

Nothing COOL Can Last: Remembering Meadham Kirchoff's Campy, Joyful 2012 Show 3

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It was campy, but it was also political. With Courtney Love as a muse, the models wore choppy, bleach-blonde wigs, babydoll dresses, and the-circus-is-in-town makeup. They danced like rockstars as other models walked by in rainbow-hued chiffon, tights the color of school cafeterias, and Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette brocade, pistachio-macaron excess.

 

As part of the second act, schoolgirl ballerinas twirled en pointe as a curtain fell to reveal a tableau of models on a tiered, white cake. The show ended with a single ballerina, who climbed triumphantly on top of said cake and twirled. It was an answer of sorts to Meadham Kirchoff’s psychosexual Spring 2011 show with burnt fabric, torn hems, and deconstructed girlish clothes. Their Spring 2012 show was about triumph and feminine joy.

Nothing COOL Can Last: Remembering Meadham Kirchoff's Campy, Joyful 2012 Show 4

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In interviews, Meadham talked about his and Kirchoff’s fascination with “the girl on the cake”—showgirls, pageant winners, and dance-recital queens. “I wanted to take them off the cake, and put a real girl up there,” he told Vogue. It was about being, of course, the girl with the most cake—wherever and whoever you are.

 

It was dreaminess with a beating heart, creating a world where a D.I.Y. sensibility blended with emerging expressive platforms like Tumblr and Blogspot, where a teenager anywhere—say a suburb of Chicago—could create their own digital world to inhabit.

Nothing COOL Can Last: Remembering Meadham Kirchoff's Campy, Joyful 2012 Show 5

Image via Getty

Reading through old interviews, it’s clear that Meadham Kirchoff both inspired the world of Rookie and were inspired by it. In the show’s notes, the designers thanked Gevinson, identified as a 15-year-old blogger who had recently launched Rookie. “We have the same aesthetic and the same brain patterns,” Meadham said. “She is the person most like me I’ve ever known.”

 

Those sorts of imaginative, cut-and-paste havens that Meadham Kirchoff and Rookie created—which feel like a respite from the constant churning out of content and smooth, perfect lifestyle-brand marketing—are missing from today’s landscape of taste consumption. In a New York Times story about Rookie, photographer Petra Collins talked about the publication’s influence.

Nothing COOL Can Last: Remembering Meadham Kirchoff's Campy, Joyful 2012 Show

Image via Getty

“We were taking stuff that what was positioned as feminism and female joys and aesthetic and dirtying it up and making it fit,” she said. “Back then it was so original, but now it’s such a thing to do.”

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