Pussy Whipped – Meadham Kirchoff

Cover feature for Clash magazine (October edition)

 Bedecked with all manner of timeworn curios – from ornate china trinkets to a make-up streaked bra owned by friend and designer Louise Gray – the East London live/work space of Ed Meadham and Ben Kirchhoff is a visual testament to their inquisitorial breed of creativity.

Both music lovers in their own right, a neatly stacked record collection sits on the shelf and as a plump black cat sidles into the room, our discussion soon turns to the inevitable.  “I read a Vogue article about Hole when I was around eleven or twelve and from that point on I became fascinated by Courtney Love,” admits self-confessed riot grrrl fanatic Ed. “I started collecting pictures of her and it quickly grew into something of an obsession.”

Many of us use the associative properties of music to construct our own personal timelines, equating particular moments in our chequered musical past with particular stages in our self-development. And after “a nine-year fling” with the raven-haired Siouxsie Sioux, a short-lived tryst with punk prior to that, as the eighties turned into the nineties, Ed was confronted by a whole new raft of sonic crusaders; the riot grrrls. Pinpointing the exact date of his riot grrrl awakening – Huggy Bear’s Valentine’s Day performance on The Word in 1993 – Ed grew more and more enthralled by these angsty anti-heroines, who, armed with brash sounding guitars and even brasher sounding lyrics, tore up the nineties in a flash of feminist fury. “For me, music is a very visual thing and so it was their whole aesthetic I admired. It wasn’t only about the music, but also about the look and of course the ideas,” he explains.


Their aesthetic permeates his work and Meadham Kirchhoff’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection, seen across catwalks the previous autumn, was heralded as a visual homage to the inimitable Courtney Love. Models sported tie-dyed hair in varying shades of pastel and candy coloured hues, their faces painted with grunge-obeying make-up, their bodies adorned with glitter, lace, ruffles and bows. Even the venue was a nod to the era, with whimsical flower displays aligning the stage and handmade zines placed on attendees’ seats.

But Ben’s musical heritage is not so pronounced. Growing up in Africa, his early musical consumption was limited to his parents’ Abba mixtapes – all five of them to be exact. “I had a weird upbringing where I was introduced to everything really late,” he says. “I moved to France when I was fifteen and by that point I was two years behind everyone else, so I had some serious catching up to do.” For Ben, the ethereal Kate Bush and folkloric PJ Harvey are key; exalting the former’s theatricality and the latter’s ability to reinvent herself at every turn. But he also recognises the influence of music on his creative efforts. “If we talk about connecting music with the way the label has progressed, then at the beginning it was all about Siouxsie Sioux,” he says. “It gradually progressed into Courtney and riot grrrl but there’s always been a female singer at the forefront. We’ve got a soundtrack for every season so who knows what it will be this year…”

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