"Perfume is so integral to us, to our lives and to how we think,” says designer Edward Meadham, who together with fellow Central Saint Martins graduate Benjamin Kirchhoff are the creative minds behind fashion brand Meadham Kirchhoff. “It is completely incomprehensible for us to imagine not scenting the shows. I think mostly people thought it was odd that we were walking around with bottles of perfume spraying EVERYTHING, the room, the models, the clothes, the catwalk, it takes a while for fashion audiences to absorb anything, but I think that by now the audiences know to expect a scent, and perhaps that makes them open to immerse themselves deeper into the atmosphere and mood of the show.”
Meadham Kirchhoff and Penhaligon’s story developed officially nine seasons ago beginning with the "My Knives are like a Tongue, I love you, I Hate You" show for spring/summer 2010. Since then, the 1870-founded English perfume house has scented Meadham Kirchhoff’s shows with Hammam Bouquet, Bluebell, Castile, English Fern and Cornubia.
“With Penhaligon’s we recognise a similarity of approach in independence and a sort of weird old fashioned Englishness between us,” explains Mr. Meadham.
Mr. Kirchhoff, who is originally from the south of France, adds that he had been aware of Penhaligon’s since he first moved from Sete to London in 1997, “I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with anything authentically English and they express this so well in scent that it felt like a natural match.”Each season, the designer duo chooses a scent based on the mood, clothes, colours and textures. “Each collection presents itself with a new set of elements,” describes Mr. Kirchhoff the process of selection. “We think about it for a moment, smell different Penhaligon’s perfumes and we will choose the one that links best with our story.”
Mr. Meadham elaborates, “I love it when you can smell a person’s perfume before you have even seen them, and that was for me one of the reasons to scent the shows, because ‘the woman’ (of the season) is in the room, so to speak, so each collection has a different mood and is a different facet of ‘the woman’.”
“Tralala should be worn everywhere at all times,” continues Mr. Meadham about the new collaborative scent created by master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour. “It was not made to go with one specific season, but rather to be THE perfect scent.” While Mr. Meadham likes powdery heavy scents such as iris, tuberose and leathers; Mr. Kirchhoff always ends up going back to musky or leathery smells despite changing taste. Personal visits to the designers’ East London studio inspired Mr. Duchaufour to create the essence of the fantastical world of the brand in scent using a cornucopia of rich ingredients: saffron, whiskey, incense, myrrh resinoidas as well as the designers’ favourites of leather, musk and tuberose. The creation is a sensual, beguiling and addictive concoction.
The sweet feminine spirit of the brand is also reflected through the packaging of the fragrance. The box opens up to reveal a little jewel that is the bottle of fragrance, which is personalised and dressed with a big red bow tie, while the cap is decorated with an all-made-up smiley with XXL lashes, baby-doll blue eyeshadow, blushing cheeks and red lips. Both the bottle and the box are sealed with a love heart.
“We do not think of things always so entirely defined and categorised by rules of gender,” concludes Mr. Meadham. “We always hoped that Tralala will appeal to people who love and appreciate beautiful things.”
Tralala is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum bottles - sold exclusively at Harvey Nichols stores and online; and launches in the UK at Penhaligon’s boutiques and online this month.
Illustration by Deanna First. Images: courtesy of Penhaligon.