Erdem Moralioglu uses words like politeness and control to define his design signature, but the rhythm of his collections also points to an obvious, almost violent call and response. Where Spring was all cool, controlled blue, Erdem's new pre-collection was distinguished by volcanic splashes of orange. True, the signature politeness was there in a pleated, strapless dress with a boned bodice—its ideal accessories a dry martini and a little light jazz on the hi-fi—or the black lace twinset, or the dress that masterfully matched a high-waisted pencil skirt to a draped, three-quarter sleeve blouse (that combination of structure and drape is a new fascination for the designer). But tucked away on Erdem's mood board were some small photos of Jeanne Moreau, the French actress whose combination of twinsetted bourgeois decorum and knife-in-the-back wantonness electrified uptight audiences back in the days of black-and-white. Those images were a more meaningful signpost to the essence of the collection.
The colors really told the tale. That orange was fused with yellow in a hectic floral that looked like agitated lava on the background of a black crepe skirt. It reappeared as a lurid lace appliquéd across a dress in tobacco-shaded wool. Equally outré was the combination of chartreuse and royal blue, as a silk cardigan over a dress, or as lace of one color appliquéd on a dress of the other. Imagine either of those outfits as a same-y symphony of tone-on-tone and it was easy to see how the politeness would veer into dull propriety. But Erdem has triumphed over the fine line yet again with his instinct for the rightness of wrong. It's even started to look commercial on its own terms—again, it didn't take much to visualize the mass appeal of a tobacco-toned trench in waxed cotton with a smattering of black lace overlay. It also helped that the designer confidently steered his cocktail dressiness—another longtime signature—toward a more casual daytime attitude. All in all, a stimulating appetizer for Fall.