Erdem’s at his best when he’s pushing melancholia and darkness. Some would categorise him as a leader of the prim aesthetic that boomed during Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s heyday at Valentino. But when he lets disorder creep in - torn fabrics, frayed hems and the like - he’s at his most poetic. Indeed, poetry’s important to Erdem. He’s a romantic at heart. His shows come with both a proposition for new fashion and a suggestion for a new fantasy or story - a new life for his woman. This season, she was a shipwrecked heroine, walking his runway on battered planks amidst billowing sails. She was a survivor, not a classic damsel in distress, even if her flowing gowns and historical garb suggested a more conservative, fragile role.
The designer had looked to history for inspiration, glancing as a far back as 1633, to Van Dyck’s portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, to search for tones and cuts - see those poetic blues, romantic reds and intricate, laboured cuffs and bodices. But movement was also a key story here, informed, in part, by the photography of Jaques Henri Lartigue, notably his 1929 imagery of dresses blowing in the sea breeze. Also on his mood board was a silk dress, made in 1942 but spotlighted just a few months ago, in April 2016, when it was found, almost eerily well preserved, amongst a shipwreck by Dutch divers. It’s original owner was Jean Kerr, Countess of Roxburghe and lady in waiting to Queen Henrietta Maria. Recently, there’s been a vogue for the old and antique in fashion. A mood that values battered, worn garments - seeing them as valuable for their stories, and the memories and emotions ebbed in them through wear. The shops are full of items that could be antiques. At Gucci, Alessandro Michele has dubbed his work 'fake vintage.' Erdem’s an advocate of this ethos too. These dresses didn’t look like costume or copies, but they seemed all the more precious because of their sense of history - ironic, given that they are brand new, dreamed up in just a few months, as the pace of fashion dictates. But the suggestion of age is intriguing and seductive - buy an Erdem gown and you’re investing in a treasure, a future heirloom, to be passed down and cherished.
Breathtaking. That’s a word that shouldn’t be bestowed lightly upon a show. But that’s what this was. The clothes themselves seemed to have in-built movement and kinetic energy. They billowed and fluttered in the wind, even though there was none - the magic and dynamism of the sea and breeze was created and captured just through their cuts, frills and layers. This was a lesson in the magic of clothes in motion, the pure, unbridled beauty of fashion and the skill of Erdem as a dreamer. This was his best show to date.