Erdem Moralıoğlu's collections usually succeed because of the focus and specificality of his vision. He hones in on an idea or theme - see last season’s damsels in distress - and produces an edited, exquisite collection that never steps off mark. It’s not pedantic, but it’s precise.
What a surprise then, that for A/W 17, his strength came from the way he’d wilfully allowed confusion and contrast to seep into the collection. Modest, historical-esque English gowns merged into exotic Ottoman heirlooms. Delicate pastels mixed with rich, seductive spice tones. Fluid gowns combined with strict, military style pieces. Refinement gave way to turmoil - a mash of textures and tones. Shyness - the typical coyness of the composed Erdem girl - seemed to turn into stoicism and strength. This was about worlds coming together, different styles uniting and aesthetics mixing. That all sounds very grand and sincere, but there was an element of political and emotional depth to this show. Moralıoğlu is not one to hop on the slogan-t-shirt-we’re-all-feminists bandwagon, but one sensed he wanted to make a statement in a way that felt true and authentic. Moralıoğlu’s own family history provided plenty of food for thought. His mother is English. His father is Turkish. He grew up in Canada. He understands the complexities around cultural identity and how loaded questions around birthplace and heritage are today. Rather than moan or mooch, as many other designers have in the face of such troubles, Moralıoğlu presented an argument - a case for the beauty that comes from cultures combining. His aesthetic melting pot was a symbol of solidarity with those who embrace said cultural melting points and rile against segregation.
This was a measured and heartfelt reaction to difficult times - a personal musing on the state of the world today. And while there’s a sweet irony to the fact that one of the most touching and emotive responses to Brexit, Trump and the like came in the form of largely conservative, traditional gowns that embrace beauty for beauty’s sake, one has to praise Moralıoğlu for his subtly and, in turn, his strength.