Visits to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and to the costume holdings of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum started Erdem Moralioglu thinking about imperial treasures. In Vienna, he was dazzled by a roomful of Diego Velazquez’s portraits of the “extraordinary infantas” who married into the Habsburg dynasty or more specifically, by the artist’s depictions of their armorial bodices and stiff stomachers and the illusion they presented of flattened shapes.
At the V & A’s state-of-the-art storage facilities in Blythe House, meanwhile, he discovered William Kilburn’s album of late eighteenth-century botanical prints, intended to be used at the time as designs on calico. Those botanicals were interpreted in rich damasks and brocades in silk and velvet or embroideries on quilted silks, modernized by being bonded with neoprene to give them body without weighty infrastructure and worked in tidy 1960s-couture silhouettes, like boxy little shifts or bell-skirted frocks.
Those sad-faced infantas, meanwhile, inspired a palette of rich precious and semiprecious jewel tones and hammered gold and led Erdem to think about
So elaborate sleeves were torn asunder at the shoulder or elbow seam revealing the garment or a flash of flesh beneath, and swathes of fabric draped to suggest they were tumbling from the shoulder of a White Russian fleeing the revolutionaries and dressed in too great a hurry. An empress’s ruff was used as a trim scrolling around the bosom on a slender velvet cocktail dress, or the points of her doublet as the half-peplum in back of a chic wool caban.“decaying dynasties the Romanovs escaping with their jewels and the idea of a dress that’s destroyed and partially put back together again.”
Erdem’s technical and craftsmanship skills are extraordinary laser-cut lacework is re-embroidered until it suggests the thick lace prized in seventeenth-century courts and pieces are encrusted with roundels of elaborate jewel embroidery but despite all these historical references, there is a contemporary lightness to this remarkable collection, anchored by the pointed-toe flats that many of the looks were shown with, that show that this gifted designer has his own feet planted firmly in the 21st century.
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photo Credit/Source: VOGUE
Photography: Stills - Molly SJ Love; Runway - Yannis Vlamos/Indigitalimages
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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.