Erdem Moralioglu did himself no favors by dressing his Spring Erdem collection as some kind of break with his past. The clothes were too obtuse to communicate a clear message. His Pre-Fall, on the other hand, had a crisp clarity that didn't need any verbiage from the designer. The collection was a sharp distillation of what people love about Erdem: exquisite cocktail dresses, eerie florals, a sweet-turned-sour sophistication. He said he imagined "a schoolgirl in a kilt wearing her grandmother's coat." There were paintings by Balthus and John Currin on his mood board that perfectly embodied that skewed notion. His mastery of propriety gone wrong found perfect expression in a kinky trench in forest-green eel skin. (Nicholas Kirkwood's pointy flats were the consummate accessory.) Same with a miniskirt in boiled wool crepe with matching bustier and, best of all, an asymmetrical slipdress in burgundy silk crepe, delicately suspended from spaghetti straps and embroidered with a big black dahlia. There are few flowers with such a bad vibe, and it was entirely in keeping with Moralioglu's twisty ethos that he would make it the motif of his collection. He is, after all, the guy who eternally exalts the "wrong" in his work.
Curiously, the element he singled out here as most wrong was a clutch of pieces slathered in coppery sequins. They had a Halston-dresses-Liza jazziness, particularly the sequined top and tuxedo pants that were Erdem's alternate offering for evening. A little less formal maybe than the flower-embroidered column with the starchy white shirt collar ("glamorous governess" might once have been Erdem's classic default position), but then, de-formalized dressiness was actually the essence of the collection. The designer achieved this effect with a front-and-back proposition. A little black dress in macramé lace looked formal from the front, but in back, it sensuously molded to the spine with a neoprene-like jersey. A lace jumpsuit, backed in silk cady, sported a solid black T-shirt pocket. A little thing, you might think, but it undoubtedly defused the dressiness. And there was something that Moralioglu did with his cutting that was equally effective, sloping side seams forward so that the body's stance shifted slightly, emphasizing the hips. Simple, elegant, lovely.