When reviewing high-end fashion, I tend to detach my own dress sense from my overall judgement of the designs. Given a boatload of cash, I'd probably wade straight into the deep end of couture fashion with brands like Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh, bypassing the more "wearable" options entirely. Erdem Moriaglu's clothes are my one foray into the pretty, feminine side of mainstream high-end fashion. Despite the plethora of florals and delicate New York Heiress At A Tea Party silhouettes, there's something sharp enough about Erdem's style that I can't help but love him season after season.
Photos: Erdem/Boo George.
Erdem's designs vacillate between ethereally floaty and demurely structured, and all appear to be aimed at the type of woman who never encounters dirt or breaks the ankle-straps on her shoes. In the past he's experimented the kind of super-smart coats and suits that are worn by terrifyingly stylish New York society matrons, giving the houndstooth and floral patterns enough modern digital-print youthfulness that there's no danger of them seeming stuffy or old-fashioned.
Possibly it's just down to the styling of the models for this photoshoot (and the fact that the Snow White & The Huntsman trailer has caused me to develop a deeply tragic crush on her), but I think that Kristen Stewart would look great in a lot of these outfits -- her stylists tend to favour lots of bare legs but avoid the kind of sexy-starlet outfits most actresses in her peer group tend to go for.
OK, so this season we have the usual Erdem elements combined demureness and peculiarity, with colour choices dialled up far further than "normal" conservative outfits like these would do. Some of the outfits are a little boring (WASP-y neckerchiefs combined with simple knee-length skirts, and flowery dresses) but still on-trend enough (patterned trouser-suits with narrow legs; rorschach-like skirt prints) that they're certain to be successful. Erdem's designs seem to cater to quite a specific audience -- unfortunately, an audience that's already over-catered to: slim women who want to look classy and rich. In a way, it's very dated, this combination of fragile imagery and implicit wealth, and there are definite hints of retro mid-20th-century styles in Erdem's designs. Belted, high-waisted skirts, for example, and the general lack of exposed skin.
The pinker of the two dresses pictured below is my favourite outfit of the collection. Adhering to the simple, conservative knee-length dress silhouette, Erdem livens it up with the kind of detailing for which he is famous. The acid-pink highlights are weird enough that it managed to avoid falling into Michele Obama territory (by no means a bad thing in general -- just not suitable for this collection), and the translucent cut-outs on the back and arms have a kind of skeleton-leaf quality to them that I can't help but love.
The translucent dresses are really an excellent representation of what Erdem does best: taking traditional elements of womenswear design and twisting them ever-so-slightly so they become subtly daring and weird without quite leaving the trad/femme comfort zone. With most other designers that kind of description wouldn't be a compliment (from me, anyway), but Erdem's attention to detail means that even his simplest of designs often seem to have some aspect of sharp strangeness to them. While the paisley-pattern dress pictured below is tissue-thin and short enough that in a different pose, it might look like a party dress, the rought, torn-off quality of the collar makes it seem far more fragile and delicate.