LONDON, United Kingdom — Erdem’s prairie scenario for Spring 2016 was so dramatic, so intense, it was small wonder he felt like “turning the page” for his Pre-Fall collection. “I wanted to focus on softness and roundness,” he explained during a preview in the perfect little showroom he has set up in the basement of his recently opened Mayfair flagship.
Nothing said that better than a slip dress in dip-dyed ostrich feathers, held together with grosgrain bows. There was a cape to match. The daffiness of these pieces had a heyday-of-Hollywood flair. The sense of past decades recontextualised was at the heart of the collection. Erdem mentioned the way Sarah Moon’s photos brought the 1920s up to the 1980s, or Luchino Visconti’s films viewed the 1940s through the decadent prism of the 1970s. He had a moodboard well-stocked with Visconti’s vedettes, and it wasn’t hard to imagine his perfectly composed evening dresses, high in the waist and neckline, long in length and sleeve, dressing the women of “The Damned”.
Erdem talked about "artists and models" as another inspiration, and it wasn't hard to imagine the mannequins who'd pose for Horst or Beaton in these clothes. The 1940s also made their presence felt in ¾-sleeved coats and a black suit — fitted jacket with nipped waist and flaring skirt — which Erdem labelled “Dior-ish”. There’s a hint for you, given that his name is one of many in the mix for that big old job in Paris.
There aren’t many of Erdem’s peers who work so consistently with guipure and duchesse and tiny impeccable floral embroideries. After ten years, they’ve become his signatures, and their dressiness could so easily have palled. But, in perfecting them, Erdem has also managed to endlessly refresh them. You look for the touches — the frayed hem, the hit of peculiar colour (funny how baby blue can look quite threatening), or the ruffles spiralling on the bias around the body — that add a little shiver to the illusion.
Erdem’s a great storyteller. And, with the two-tone trench in black and tan he showed here, his Pre-Fall story has a real star.