I was speaking to an LVMH chief executive the other day who was lamenting the curse of the 10-year anniversary. “It seems to be the kiss of death,” he said. “It just reminds people that you’re getting older. I wouldn’t mark the occasion at all,” he insisted. “Just leave it to drift quietly by instead.”
Erdem Moralioglu confounds his argument. Not only did the designer wholeheartedly celebrate the 10th anniversary of his eponymous label last summer, he also opened a store. And yet, with his AW16 collection, staged in the back rooms of Selfridges department store on Monday, he delivered perhaps his most accomplished and desirable collection yet.
His starting point was the English artist Oliver Messel whose lavish set designs informed so much contemporary theatre in the 20th century. Models walked amid an installation boudoir, all white drapery and antique chandeliers, to a soundtrack of excerpts from All About Eve and Rebecca; fabulous old films exploring role play and the outer edges of feminine ambition.
Dresses skimmed the body in 1940s silhouettes and in sheer fil coupé. The tailoring was gentle, flattering and embroidered with flowers, a golden “tinsel” skirt made from a brocade turned backwards and angora sweater gave the designer his “faded grandeur” finish.
“I imagined old Hollywood and a girl getting ready to go to an audition,” he explained. “She might pick up a 1920s shift dress and mix it with 1940s tailoring or a 1930s bias dress . . . It was all about these women putting their best foot forward for this moment in their lives. Women trying to be something else.”
Moralioglu loves a narrative but while this storytelling was profound, the joy of these clothes were how singularly wearable they were. Hems were shorter, the silhouettes looser and a little undone. After a few seasons in a long-line dress with narrow bodices, the Erdem woman seemed a more sensual, cooler-looking creature. If this collection was an audition for my wardrobe, spacey metallic three-quarter length dress and silvery lace number would get the job. But frankly none of these pieces would be out of work for long.