I’d argue that Erdem Moralioglu is perhaps the best red carpet frock designer working in fashion today. Sure, many starlets are under contract with big houses for perfume or make-up adverts so duly wear their gowns, but given the choice, I bet a fair proportion of them would rather wear an Erdem ornate vintage-look design. His dresses always look like precious hand-me-downs or gorgeous heirlooms. Every brand worth their salt is doing a version of Alessandro Michele’s 'fake vintage', but Moralioglu has been pushing this old-school agenda for a while and his pieces always look so, well, expensive. They never look like a poor take on a great vintage piece, bought by a design studio intern at a thrift store for 'research', but an even better version of the gowns you saw in the movies, or on some cult retro actress or icon. They could veer into costume, but Moralioglu brings in enough lightness and whimsy to keep things fresh. He’s good with colour - the yellow and lilac on show today were divine. Flashes of red added a bit of passion and avoided anything feeling too saccharine or sweet.
This season, Moralioglu had been looking at the style archives of Queen Elizabeth II. The royal family has cropped up on lots of runways this season (see Ryan Lo). Perhaps we can blame The Crown. The Queen’s an appropriate reference for Moralioglu, who's shtick is the regal and traditional. Sounds a bit Brexit? Don’t worry, it was handled with a sweet, poetic nostalgia. It was informed by an interest in the woman, rather than the monarchy as a whole, especially how Elizabeth lived when she was young and her more private moments - the way she moved, the way she danced, the clothes she wore. He’d used the inspiration to create dresses for modern princesses - ones that occasionally wear flats and enjoy a turn on the dancefloor. It’s fashion for an elite, but it’s open about being that, unlike most high fashion today which is masquerading as some art project with a social conscious for a diverse range of characters. Moralioglu is constant and unashamed in his quest for feminine beauty.
Also on his moodpboard was New York’s The Cotton Club, originally opened in Harlem in 1923 and immortalised in a movie by Francis Ford Coppola in 1984. The jazz mood helped give the collection punch and swing - a little sex appeal, a little attitude. The odd divide between those seemingly opposite references, the Queen of England and a New York night club summed the collection up - it danced between formality and joy, ease and restriction, oscillating between stiff tailoring and girlish gowns with bows and feathers. In the end, it was run of showstoppers. The final models walked to Billie Holiday’s cover of Night and Day. Really, this was all about the former - Moralioglu’s clothes are made for the night time. One won’t find any better styles than these for dining, drinking, posing and preening.