Subversive fashion comes in all shapes, and guises. It doesn't necessarily revolve around black leather, studs and moth-holed t-shirts. Take Erdem Moralioglu: he probably wouldn't design a leather jacket if you put a gun to his head, but that doesn't mean his clothing isn't subversive.
You catch more flies with honey - Erdem's subversion is in his sweetness. There's something perverse about Erdem's unabashed, unashamed prettiness on the London Fashion Week schedule, an intriguing sense of dislocation. Maybe that's over-analytical, but there could be nothing less 'London' than Erdem, so polished and picture-perfect are his clothes. For spring 2012, Erdem took us back to the thirties, to The Great Gatsby, garden parties, and a time when ladies (note: 'ladies', not 'women', or God forbid 'girls') wore tiny hats, pointy-point kitten heels and lacy wrist-gloves on a daily basis. His ladies marched out into the curlicued ballroom of The Savoy soaked in pastels from head to foot. The vision was pure, there was no chink in Erdem's armour of femininity. Even his insteps were strewn with foliate prints.
What makes Erdem's fashion compelling, however, is that he knows how to push it that little bit too far. This show felt like walking into a room crammed with overpowering narcissi - the pleats, the chiffons, the florals, were strident, aggressive even in their sweetness. Could Erdem overdose on pretty? Almost. The subversion in Erdem's saccharine came with its extremity - this time, it was lace that was the leitmotif. Erdem has loved smothering his collections with valenciennes and chantilly for years now. This time, the lace clambered across trenches, cocktail dresses, scramblesd across the head in neat little boaters, and even infested the insides of sunglasses. Erdem's femininity is infectious.
That, of course, was all for the show. Abstract elements from Erdem's couture-level clothing, and they lose their sickness and simply become exquisite must-have pieces for any modern wardrobe. Trench-coats in lace or embroidered duchess satin were stunning, sheath dresses graphic, mermaid-line evening gowns straightforward beautiful, the skirts bias-cut to allow a graceful ease of movement. Erdem clothing isn't trying to be edgy, or ground-breaking, or cool. It's trying to be beautiful. That's plain and simple - even if the clothes aren't. And it's exactly what we need from him.