LONDON — Erdem Moralioglu has become the latest designer to take up Livia Firth’s annual Green Carpet Challenge, and the fruit of his labor will be revealed Monday at the Wallace Collection in London.
The designer has created 12 styles — a combination of gowns, day and cocktail dresses — made from lace from his own archives; silks produced by organically farmed worms, or fabrics made from recycled fibers or plastic bottles.
The collection will go on display in a previously shut room at the Wallace Collection, the grand, historic town house that houses Old Master paintings, armor, and French 18th century furniture and porcelain. Erdem said the setting was an inspiration for the collection.
“From the very beginning I found the Wallace Collection itself so inspiring: It has the largest collection of Marie Antoinette’s furniture outside of France and I love the idea of there was so much chinoiserie and all of these amazing damasks,” said the designer.
“Knowing where the collection was going to be shown, I was really inspired by that idea and by creating something that felt really beautiful and timeless.” The designer said his priority was that the collection had “a real human hand, and feels very glamorous and special.”
Among the highlights is a backless, Victorian-style dress with a ruffle spiraling around the skirt and buttons running down the bodice. It’s done in a voile fabric made from eco-silk yarn, and digitally printed with inks free of hazardous chemicals.
There are duchess satin styles made partly from recycled plastic bottles and brocade from Erdem’s archives, and an organic silk and organza dress with cutout shoulders hand-embroidered at Erdem in London.
During the process, Erdem said he was happy to press his textile archives into action: “Often when you create a collection, you have so much leftover fabric,” he said, adding that he got a buzz from “taking things that have been used a few years ago and reintroducing them in an interesting way, taking older fabrics and printing on them. You’re giving new life to them.”
Monday’s presentation marks Erdem’s return to the Green Carpet fold. He was involved in the original Green Carpet Challenge showcase of five designers two years ago at London Fashion Week and follows Stella McCartney, who created a capsule collection last year. A variety of brands and designers have collaborated on one-off projects with Green Carpet Challenge over the past three years.
Firth, founder of Green Carpet Challenge and creative director of Eco-Age, the brand consultancy that focuses on sustainability, said it wasn’t a big leap for Erdem, who already makes much of his collection in England and works with archive fabrics and eco-friendly printers, to design this collection.
“You don’t buy an Erdem dress and then throw it away or don’t wear it anymore, you buy an Erdem dress and you have it for life. And also whether you’re 18 years old or 70 years old you love Erdem,” she said. “His clothes are so versatile, in a way he is already sustainable fashion: It is what fashion should be, and what it used to be — and hopefully it will become again.”
The collection, which is supported by Mercedes-Benz, will be sold at Barneys New York, Net-a-porter.com, at Erdem’s new stand-alone store at 70 South Audley Street in London and the designer’s Web site. Prices are in line with the designer’s mainline collection.
Erdem’s capsule will have an even longer life in many ways. Inspired by his work for Green Carpet Challenge, even his mannequin supplier for the store has launched an eco-range of mannequins made out of recycled fiber.