‘I wanted to create a character through the clothes and environment,’ said Erdem Moralioglu. That’s why he’d collaborated with the set designer Robin Brown, whose installation The Collector was recently exhibited at Frieze Masters and recreated here in the form of lived-in living rooms that included Erdem’s own personal memorabilia.
The clothes, he said after his stand-out show, were made to look as if they’d been borrowed from the set. He thought of each girl as the kind of character who might be addicted to the style of actresses of a certain vintage as seen in cult films: Kim Novak in Hitchcock’s 1958 Vertigo, or Claudia Cardinale playing Sandra in Visconti’s epic of the same name, both pictured in a booklet left on everyone’s seat. ‘I wanted it to look as if they’d fallen on hard times, coming home at the end of the night, ripping off the upholstery from the sofa and putting it on.’
To listen to Erdem backstage, you might think we had just witnessed some raggedy old tat walking down the catwalk. This was not the case. Everything was exceptionally beautiful and crafted with intense polish, from the natty leopard-print suits to the frayed-edged tweed coats and the glistening embroidered tulle dresses steeped in vivid colour and sometimes sprouting ostrich feathers. Everything came with sturdy knee-high leather riding boots, all the better to give the rich prettiness its real, wear-it-right-now feel.
The cleverest pieces, inspired by the ripping up of upholstery, were those that appeared to morph into one another, like the polo-neck sweater that grew into an exquisite silk ball skirt. In terms of pattern-cutting skills alone, they showed how high this designer sets the bar and how far he is willing to push himself.
The one question that remains regarding Erdem Moralioglu, is when will he take the reins of a heritage Paris fashion house? Of all the designers out there yet to be handpicked to take on one of the industry’s top jobs or cut a deal with a luxury goods group, surely he must be next in line. Or perhaps he would rather hold on to his autonomy and oversee his rapidly expanding brand himself. The point is, this really is his moment.
Photo above, Getty Images