Helter Skelter, Meadham Kirchhoff AW13

Posted on June 11, 2013 by Alexander Ingham Brooke

“It felt like a secretly very sentimental piece… I wanted to find the moments where the girls looked lost and moments where they looked so strong. As a filmmaker I favour intimacy and the sentimental in my work – it is the personal connections that make this kind of work happen. Everyone on camera has a separate backstory to me somehow.” – Alexander Ingham Brooke on his experience backstage at Helter Skelter, the AW13-14 collection by Meadham Kirchhoff.

Everyone behaves differently in an event, and at London Fashion Week there is so much frenzy. After the show was finished, my real film for Helter Skelter took place once everything was over, and I have to admit that when I was editing the film I was going through a break up. It was during the editing process that the film became a sentimental piece, in which I could focus on the private moments of the girls beyond the collection and the event. It was as if I was searching the footage for this person I’d lost, looking through the girls faces for human reactions; there’s a girl who looks in fear before she is about to walk out, another laughs gloriously into the camera flashes. For me, it’s these imperfections and private moments that make the film what it is.

Initially I wanted to make a personal work not intended for publishing, but then I approached Meadham Kirchhoff (tentatively), very aware that they inhabit a very private world. I feel that Ben & Ed together emanate something truly original. There’s an alchemy behind them, more cult than a fashion house and by making such a private world they create something timeless and magic. In fact during the event you could see the unease of their private world suddenly being viewed by the public. They have little things that separate them from everyone else, for instance many of the girls in the show aren’t models – they are cast beautifully by Melissa Thompson and Gabriella Massey via chance encounters and friendships. The girls physiognomies and their ruffled white collars gave off an aura of something timeless and austere, they would have looked more at home in a Dutch baroque scene or a Tudor court than in the 2013 LFW Topshop Showspace.

As such I wanted this film to capture their ‘otherworld’ and to heighten the intimacy of the girls facing an event, so I decided to use a section in Henry Purcell’s Music for the funeral of Queen Mary (1695), “Man is Born of Woman” – an extraordinary piece of choral music that gave the film its melancholic yet vital pace. Beneath it all it’s attempting to make sense of an event – be it a break up, a fashion show or even Queen Mary’s death.