Behind the scenes at the museum . . . there’s a young man at work. Oh! It’s Erdem Moralioglu. Strangely at home in the hushed corridors of the high-security store where the Victoria and Albert Museum keeps its treasures, here’s London’s new red carpet designer of the year, shooting his pre-fall lookbook. Specimen A is a long sleeveless dress with a full skirt in a jacquard of pink roses vibrating slightly oddly against a deep burgundy background, and a very good illustration of why its designer walked off with that title at the British Fashion Awards last week.
It’s Moralioglu’s eye for the decorative yet somehow uncomplicated party dress that wins him the love, as well as what he does with flowers and occasionally off-the-wall color combinations. This season, you’ll see these things in the hint of something veering toward the mid-to-late-sixties formalwear going on a certain whiff of that moment of debutantes and dinner dances, Empire-line dresses, jewelry, and evening gloves. “Actually, I researched fabrics and colors right here in the V&A archives,” he said, smiling. “So I thought it’d be lovely to shoot the clothes in here, and luckily, the museum kindly agreed.”
The difference between the museum’s period pieces and Erdem’s fil coupe florals and metallic jacquards is in the weight. Whereas the originals look incredible, but are often stiff, heavy, and scratchy to the touch, modern weaving techniques have lightened everything up to a wearable degree of waftiness. The original spirit of that bygone party era is captured in details like the flat velvet bows implanted at the point where two shoulder straps converge in the back of a dress, and the fine edging of re-embroidered guipure lace that finishes a neckline. Still, there’s nothing laboredly “vintage” about the result. Anyone can copy an old dress, but an Erdem is an Erdem that’s the trick.
It’s a point of view he’s developing into separates, too jeweled shirts, matching tops and skirts, lace-fronted sweatshirts, even a pair of copper micro-sequin trousers: casual-dressy, you could call it. “I want to think about what a woman would wear when she gets up, when she goes to lunch, dinner, and for evening,” he said. That’s not the kind of social research you can do in a museum, mind you. Not a worry, Erdem-wise: Moralioglu’s the most affably witty, down-to-earth company at any party (and at many a trunk show) from London to L.A. Plus, like his good friend Christopher Kane, he has the secret weapon of a sister his twin, Sara always on hand as his girl reality-checker.
The upshot? Well, young girls look their age in Erdem, and older women don’t look overly done up in it. It’s a particularly happy cross-generational convergence no one else in London quite achieves. Basically, he’s London’s answer to New York’s Oscar de la Renta or Rome’s VALENTINO but independent, a fraction of the age, and already addressing the world.
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photos: Courtesy of ERDEM
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'Erdem Moralioglu mixed textures, and matte and shine, with assurance and imagination, showcasing the elaborate craft for which he is famed. The show opened with charcoal tweeds woven with fronds of ostrich and strips of patent, and formal dresses and coats densely embroidered with different scale sequins to create their own shadow effects, as well as pieces in the densely layered, cutwork velvet foliate lace that Cristóbal Balenciaga loved to use in the sixties.'