The designer returned to the National Portrait Gallery for his spring show, and what a fitting space it was for a collection that was all about identity — and dressing as the ultimate gesture of self-expression. Erdem Moralioglu took as his muses two Victorian men, cross-dressers who were nightlife celebrities and by day lived quietly as sisters.
Moralioglu handled this history with light touch, and while some of his gowns took a costume-y turn here and there, this remained an elegant outing filled with lots of flowers — in print and embroidery — black velvet and big crinkly bows.
A blurry rose print wound its way through the collection, surfacing on fitted jackets and a dress with fierce, pointed shoulders while another flower print blossomed across floor-sweeping tiered or ruched dresses, or ones with rounded sleeves and corset-style waists. Other trapeze styles were done in baby blue cloque with big funereal ribbons spilling from the neck.
Tailoring was strong, and came as a black-and-white check suits with nipped waists and powerful shoulders or as slim dresses with fierce lapels. A long white coat white coat with buttons black as coal and a velvet ribbons on the lapel was equally sharp.
“It was the idea of looking at the really feminine Victoriana and the really masculine Victoriana with men’s tailoring,”Moralioglu said, noting he also pondered what the two men, known to night owls as Stella and Fanny, would be like if they were alive today.
There were two male models in the show — their hairy legs gave them away — and Erdem said he wanted his audience to wonder about “all the little secrets” and to puzzle over who was male and who was female.
“I wanted it bright and irreverent, something that felt really kind of joyful — and odd,” said Erdem who may have brought a whole new dimension to unisex dressing.