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the designer report Blue Roses

This new label is a wonderland of offbeat charm. The Style Report meets its creator, the man who gave fashion some of its best flights of fancy at Meadham Kirchhoff.

Words by Lauren Cochrane.

Anyone who ever attended a Meadham Kirchhoff show wouldn’t forget it in a hurry. The London label incorporated everything from banquet tables layered with fruit worthy of a vanitas painting to balloon arches and dancers dressed as multiple Courtney Loves, girls painted blue and glitter bombs. The balloon show even saw Anna Wintour, the notoriously straight-faced editor of American Vogue, crack a smile. In the face of such sheer creative joy, it’s hard not to.

The label, a collaboration between Central Saint Martins graduates Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff, closed after 12 years in 2015, but Meadham is now back with his new label Blue Roses. Fans will be pleased to see the signature mix of the cute and the spiky. All pieces are named after women: Jemima, Falabella, Lydia and Cecilia included. Dresses are frilled, floral and floaty but come with goth-tinged embroidery and exaggerated shoulders, while T-shirts and hoodies feature witches on broomsticks and other intriguing illustrations, and twinset cardigans have punk-worthy holes. In the world of Blue Roses, what might look like sweetness and light actually comes with something of a snarl – a thoroughly modern combination.

Meadham – a somewhat ethereal presence at London fashion week, who once walked his finale in a twinset cardigan carrying a chihuahua – namechecks everything from The Stepford Wives to Hole, Ingres to household objects, as inspiration. That collage is, arguably, what makes this fledgling label one to watch, adding up to what Meadham has described as ‘a look of defiance’. Now on his second season – or chapter, as the designer says – he tells The Style Report more.

How did your return to fashion come about?
‘Last season, I was asked to do something in October and had to deliver it on 1 December. I didn’t have anything – not my old email address, or my database. I had to invent a label in a month and a half. But this season is the beginning of where I want it to be. The collection has more fully realised pieces, it’s a more complete vision of a wardrobe. The first season was a brief intro and this is the first chapter.’

Why Blue Roses?
The name comes from Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie – one of my favourite plays. The heroine in it, Laura Wingfield, is a shy delicate girl who is frightened of everything – someone I can relate to – and is set up with a high school boy who calls her “blue roses” after mishearing when she tells him she has pleurosis, a lung disease. There’s also the fact that blue roses are not a naturally occurring thing and I like that, the element of self-curation, something natural that is forced to be artificial. That’s how I feel about dress – it should be something you can change to be closer to how you are inside.’

I like the witch and other female archetypes. I always liked the evil ones in Disney films when I was growing up.

You have described this collection as being for ‘femme and femme-minded people’. Is genderless clothing
important to you?

‘To me, clothes are clothes. There are more things geared towards boys at the moment, with a lot of streetwear around. I think the world still belittles femininity. I like the witch and other female archetypes. I always liked the evil ones in Disney films when I was growing up. All this has motivated me to work with the language of femininity. I am so bored by the accepted version of what a powerful woman looks like – with the power suit or the bondage references. It’s ridiculous to dismiss everything else as non-powerful.’

Do you miss the catwalk moments of Meadham Kirchhoff?
‘A huge part of me misses doing the show but I’m now just learning how to do it myself. Before, someone else dealt with the production and I just did everything visual. This is just me and my boyfriend in our flat. I’m kind of enjoying it. I have been told my whole life that what I am doing is not commercial, so I have tried to not make this too extreme or exclusive. It’s relatively adaptable. I’m not interested in being cool and I hope the customer doesn’t want to be that, either.’

What other references were on the moodboard this season?
‘There’s a print from an Ingres painting that I love, and I also love 1970s dressing –that decade’s version of Georgian. I wanted to sit with that for a moment – Biba, Ossie Clark, Laura Ashley. Romantic has always been connected to what I do but I don’t really know what that means. I just want everything to be lovely. On the other side, though, there’s something spikier. For me, you can’t have one without the other.’

Is fashion about self-expression, then?
‘The glass unicorn is another symbol of mine; one that’s also featured in The Glass Menagerie. In the play, the boy breaks off the horn and it becomes just like all the other horses. That’s about it becoming normalised. I like the horn where it was. For me, I want fashion to be a truthful impression of someone’s being.’

TAP FOR CREDITS

PHOTOGRAPHS BY EDWARD MEADHAM. MODELS DIANA MCLEAN, FAYE WEI WEI, HATTIE TAYLOR, LIZZIE FARRELL. HAIR SARAH JO PALMER. MAKE-UP MONA LEANNE. SET DESIGN TONY HORNEKER.

The Style Report
The Style Report
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