Does it matter what a show “means”? Or what inspired the designer? Or should one just appreciate the clothes at face value?
On the last day of London Fashion Week I had rather reached peak “backstory”. This was possibly my failing, not that of the designers who must dig deep into their imaginations in search of ideas for an ever increasing number of collections.
The Erdem set constructed in the basement of the Selfridges building suggested a complex narrative. There were low wooden bridges, shiny round “pools” of water, translucent veils of fabric hanging from the ceiling and torn up copies of A La Recherche du Temps Perdu on the floor. We had to unravel a story.
The clothes didn’t exactly give away the plot. There were little jackets with ribbon tie fastenings, worn with flared trousers or an Edwardian style ankle length skirt. The same Chinese pattern jacquard appeared on long dresses: one off the shoulder, one a particularly sweet and wearable sundress with cutaway back.
Long, formal gowns in lace, crinkled silk and more jacquard made up most of the show and these had a historical feel: a bit Napoleonic, with high waists and ruched sleeves, and a bit Edwardian thanks to high necks. The palette was mainly cool with lots of silvery blues and black, with shots of red and unripe lemon. Off-the-shoulder dresses are set to stay a trend for next summer.
Oversized earrings, floppy sunhats and platform, lace-up Geisha shoes provided the accessories. It was pretty, but perhaps a little subdued.
In fact, designer Erdem Moralioglu had been inspired by the recent discovery of a 17th century dress found in the Wadden sea, which belonged to Jean Kerr, lady in waiting to Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I. In 1642 Jean Kerr set sail for the Netherlands with a fleet of 12 ships ostensibly to deliver the Queen’s 11-year-old daughter to marry William II, Prince of Orange.
She had a covert mission to sell the Crown Jewels to raise money for the Royalist army, but her boat sank before she could complete it. The designer then reimagined the women arriving in ‘30s Deauville.
Time travel, plotting, shipwrecks . . . seems that every party dress tells a story.