Erdem Moralioglu has always loved color, always been scared of the dark. But this is clearly a season of reinvention in London because, like Mary Katrantzou yesterday, he shelved the color and crossed to the dark side with his new collection. The conceptual shift promised to be as stark as the first look—a black tweed shift with a black tulle underskirt. It carried over to the hair (down, an Erdem first) and the footwear (flat, pointy, a Nicholas Kirkwood first).
But first impressions can be deceptive. As the show rolled on, it became increasingly clear that black has at least as many shades as gray, and Erdem's vaunted facility with fabrics offered him a means to explore them all. He had been watching Ingmar Bergman's Persona and became absorbed with the idea of duality, translating it into his fashion as "the unhinged and the proper in the same outfit." Though this face-off has often been present in his collections, saving his designs from the tweeness of propriety, it was graphic today in the split personality of an all-black outfit that had paillettes in front, duchesse satin in back. A tweedy coat shot through with a spidery green windowpane pattern that was alive with wayward strands of ostrich feather turned around to reveal shiny black patent. The contrast of texture, tone, and surface had a gothic intensity, even more extreme in a black lace dress clotted with black velvet roses, or a cocoon of white ostrich feathers trapped under a shroud of black chiffon. Purity besmirched—no wonder the show closed with a burst of the music from Psycho, another masterpiece of duality.
Erdem loves Hitchcock. He identifies with the director's subversive wit. That much was clear from the treatment that traditional feminine codes received today. Florals? Against the black, they took on a toxic tinge. Polka dots? Erdem showed them as holes punched into bonded neoprene. There was something slyly funny about that. Makes you wonder—now that Erdem is no longer afraid of the dark, what bête noire will he take on next?