Thank goodness he didn’t hire a shaman to keep the rain off his London fashion show. As the first models strode into the colonnade of the British Museum in their pristine, vaguely Edwardian broderie anglaise ensembles, two rainbows arched across the evening sky, heightening a dreamy atmosphere for Erdem Moralıoğlu’s fashion show marking his Erdem label’s 15th anniversary.
The designer had two English eccentrics pinned to his mood board backstage — Edith Sitwell and Ottoline Morrell, the former partial to clothes with a medieval flair, and the latter into Edwardian and Victorian silhouettes. Both women were out of sync with the fashions of their day, which only stoked Moralıoğlu’s intrigue.
To be sure, his wallpaper florals, long fishtail skirts and cartwheel hats are worlds – and centuries — away from what the models wear off-duty. Yet here was a collection that felt more approachable than costume-y — and one that immediately registered as summery — all that crisp cotton eyelet carved into waist-cinched silhouettes that etched their period origins gently, a ruffled peplum here; a dramatic back bow there.
The show had a breezy confidence, and felt friskier than usual. Cue Lindsey Wixson in a cotton bra top and a flaring, garden-party skirt. Otherwise demure slip dresses had other bra-like tops peeking out, the multiple straps adding a frisson of sensuality and a graphic touch.
The designer sprinkled in a few looks from his new men’s wear line, including sleeveless mohair sweaters and jeans-like trousers bearing botanical patterns or subtle flocking. The clothes looked current, executed with the same restraint as the collection for women.
Moralıoğlu seemed thrilled to be back with a live runway show, enthusing: “Seeing the bustle of something move is a beautiful thing.”
He’s become one of the stalwarts of the London scene, and one of its few success stories. According to Companies House, the official register of U.K. businesses, in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, Erdem’s turnover was 11.7 million pounds, and the company was profitable.
Kristen McMenamy, as tall and eccentric as Sitwell and Morrell, was poured into a puff-sleeved pink gown sprinkled with jet beads and waited for the designer to finish his press scrum before making a confession: “The rainbow was so strong, I think I might have missed one of the dresses.”