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“Prairie madness”, that unique condition of acute agoraphobia suffered by turn-of-century American homesteaders, haunted the Erdem SS16 collection. Erdem Moralioglu had become possessed by the pioneer era and those lonely women who endured five-year single occupancies in order to stake their claim on the unwelcoming landscape of the West.
The collection was a breathtaking intertwining of the old and new world cultures: the models dragged long, multi-tiered gowns in ribbon lace and embroidery down a dirt catwalk finished in mucky red dust — clothes literally being spoilt before our eyes.
There were melancholy Victorian motifs — cameo designs embroidered into guipure lace, a black lily-of-the-valley design that recalled a vintage lithograph, colourful upholstery jacquards turned inside out and slashed or unbuttoned around the torso to better illustrate the fragility of his muse’s mind. Silk ruffles, a millefeuille of chiffon squares and modern metallic threads all added layers of texture.
Moralioglu wanted the clothes to seem “unravelled”, a buzzword this season, and one heard also at Proenza Schouler, Preen and Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein as being key to their approach (interesting to note that all these designers focused on the cutaway shoulder to demonstrate this delicate fragility).
At Erdem, the shoulder was similarly exposed, an erogenous focal point in an otherwise modest collection, where hems fell well below the knee and sleeves were long.
This was a lovely show and a marvellously mournful birthday celebration of Moralioglu’s 10th year in business. (How I would love to see his costumes for The Turn of the Screw, or any Henry James in fact.)
The relevance of the railway station set? “The idea that there’s an escape from a world you can’t escape from.” Crazy beautiful indeed.