Erdem is another of those designers whose soft, flower-strewn vision of rose-tinted femininity suddenly seems to hold no truck in these harsher times.
Erdem is another of those designers whose soft, flower-strewn vision of rose-tinted femininity suddenly seems to hold no truck in these harsher times. It was interesting, therefore to see exactly how he would progress his brand of unabashed and unashamedly delicate femininity into the increasingly urgent call to arms for Autumn/Winter 2009. The collection he showed was still fundamentally feminine but it seemed to have a firmer edge. His shapes referenced fifties Balenciaga - an unusual source of inspiration for a designer upping their game into power-dressing, but nevertheless Erdem's brief, bell-shaped cocktail dresses in firm gazar and satin looked tougher than much he had produced, ditto his silk faille and cloque sheath dresses, closed-necked, long sleeved and narrow-hipped with thick bulbous cuffs smothered in decoration. Florals of course appeared, but as bright, vivid prints contrasting with black, or in muted, fuzzed shades of ochre, burgundy, violet and olive. And as ever, those prints were not all they appeared to be, worked once over and again with hand-painting, embroidery, beading and appliqué. Sometimes those Balenciaga touches worked - witness lipstick-scarlet satin overlaid with chantilly lace and encrusted with jet beads. Other times they were less successfully (a hobbling, hunchbacked black cloque cape with front slits for the arms is never a good look). The final looks saw Erdem returning to what he really loves in long, liquid crepe evening skirts skimming the floor in multihued watercolour prints The Edwardian silhouette underlined what I had previously overlooked: the vivid colour and blurred print this time suggesting a colourblind Monet painting Hawaii. Maybe Erdem wasn't straying that far from the flower-strewn fields he knows and loves after all.