LFW: Erdem in Bloomsbury; Roland Mouret in Greece
The weekend’s key show in London Fashion Week was by Erdem, where designer Erdem Moralioglu was inspired by his new neighborhood Bloomsbury and two of its legendary eccentrics, Dame Edith Sitwell and Lady Ottoline Morrell.
Erdem: Brilliant in Bloomsbury
Presented majestically under the lofty colonnade of the British Museum, the show was a moment of grace amid an afternoon of intense English showers. Adding to the sense of honest beauty, a double rainbow appeared over the courtyard just as the cast staged the finale.
“I moved to Bloomsbury during the pandemic and started to think about the characters who inhabited the area. Sitwell and Morrell were two amazing and formidable women; independent of thought and how they approached life. Two extraordinary beauties who lived peripherally,” explained the designer in a post-show gathering.
Both women were six feet tall, and knew and entertained each other, and both had donated gifts to the British Museum – hence the location. But the never-ending source of inspiration for Erdem is of course his adopted city and its inventive citizens and denizens. One pre-Covid show was a Cecil Beaton collection in the National Portrait Gallery.
Sunday’s show opened with a recording of Sitwell reciting a poem from the collection 'Gardeners and Astronomers,' introducing a sensational collection. In particular, the pristine mannish tuxedo shirts worn over silver embroidered simple linen skirts; perforated white poplin dresses; cashmere mohair tanks; or A-line trench coats with an Edwardian silhouette.
“I thought there was something so beautiful and poetic about the idea of astronomy and gardening. Building something on earth while looking at the stars,” smiled Erdem, standing in his backstage – in this case before a series of massive Assyrian winged man-bulls.
Though the most beautiful images were the flared dresses topped by chiffon saucer hats; made either in black or hyper-sized chintz florals.
“I loved the the ghosts of Bloomsbury trotting around the museum in brogues. Plus, the purity of white cotton seemed to suggest a new chapter for the next 15 years,” he added.
The season also celebrated the Canadian-born Erdem’s 15th anniversary, so he finished with a bride, as he did in his 2006 debut; and even sewed in the number '15' in a couple of looks. Halfway through, Erdem threw in a few gentlemanly looks, from little-boy plaid colonial suits to shirts made of elegant floral pencil drawings.
“I did my first men’s collection during the pandemic. It will come out in November, so creating a counterpart was appropriate – he was her and she was him. The two ladies both had amazing love affairs,” he chuckled, before a giant mood board.
Sitwell did a tour of America and “amazingly became a great friend of Marilyn Monroe,” he noted. Seen in a mood board photo alongside Pavel Tchelitchew’s famed portrait of her and other images of Edith covered in Elsa Peretti jewelry. A noted fashion icon, Dame Edith Sitwell famous dictum was: “Good taste is the worst vice ever invented.”
Erdem sees them as “women living outside of the time they actually lived in.” Morrell wore Edwardian clothing in the 1940s, while Sitwell dressed in medieval clothes. “Everything was displaced and disjointed in terms of time,” said Erdem, whose collection nonetheless seemed remarkably timely.
Above all the show was a timely reminder of why designers go to such lengths to stage shows.
“There is something tremendously powerful about people coming together to see a body of work. I don’t think film can ever replace that. Seeing and hearing the bustle of a dress move by cannot be replaced. It is a beautiful thing,” said the new Bloomsbury boy, who once staged a show in a nearby private garden square.
“There are so many strange little pockets of space I’ve broken into over the years,” he smiled, causing a ripple of laughter among a score of well wishers.
Roland Mouret: Homer with a Kafka twist
While designers have been shooting fashion videos incessantly for the past 18 months, Roland Mouret took the concept a step further with his very own film premiere.
Unveiled inside the swish private screening room of the Soho Hotel, a gang of editors, it-gals and fashionistas crowded in at noon on Sunday to witness a retelling of a key chapter of the Odyssey.
Except this time, Ulysses is a black refugee that three beautiful sirens rescue from drowning after he floats in on a life belt, interrupting their mid-afternoon swim. Entitled 'Terma,' the film is the latest collab by Mouret to support and empower creative women.
Shot in Aegina, an island close to Athens, the movie starred Magaajyia Silberfeld, as a beautiful Hera who arrives nervously in contemporary Greece, before encountering her two other sirens – Pisinoe and Aglaope. Initially lost, she finds herself after meeting Pisinoe, with whom she then spends the night, though it’s ambiguous whether they actually make love.
“Its Homer, but interpreted by Kafka,” explained Elias Borst, a Frenchman who jointly directed 'Terma' with Silberfeld.
A timely interpretation of history’s most famous novel, and a clever setting for Mouret’s latest ideas.
Far less formal that traditional typical Mouret collections, it featured soft-hued buttoned-up easy summer dresses; or bright halterneck sheathes seen in a seductive dance scene. When the three siren rescue Ulysses from two local jealous bigots, they ride scooters in elasticated-waist trousers and cutely folded tops with ruffled necklines.
For an evening cocktail at a dilapidated old farm, taffeta, pleated silk lurex gowns and caped taffeta bodices.
An optimistic statement by an optimistic designer, made in the Mediterranean colors of this French creator’s youth - pale mint, pearl, faded rose and sea blue.
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