The mood board for Erdem's Resort collection featured photos of Tippi Hedren and Eva Marie Saint, but they were outnumbered by images of the Viennese actress Romy Schneider. "This is my brunette collection," the designer said with a laugh. "Visconti trumps Hitchcock." If by that statement he meant to convey a knowing European worldliness, then the choice of Guinevere Van Seenus—blonde though she is—as the model for his lookbook made perfect sense. Now a woman in her mid-thirties, she could pass for a contemporary re-edition of Schneider's own style. "Eerily composed" is the way Erdem put it.
That same quality describes his own work. Never one with a flair for the casual, his signature look is as coolly put together as a classic cocktail dress. But Erdem has always managed to inject a hint of the unhinged as well, in the color and fabric combinations or the intensity of his prints. That came to such a head in his spectacular Fall collection that there was inevitably more restraint with his new outing. There was, for instance, complete control in the knee-length dresses, some with full slips or with decorously covered belts emphasizing the waist (the standout in a tomato red cotton jacquard with a keyhole back). The same could be said of the stretch neoprene pants with their overlay of navy lace, matched to a trim, tiny-buttoned blouson with a lace yoke. On the other hand, the quality that Erdem calls his "not-rightness" was strikingly embodied by a trench with a top half in a subtly ragged houndstooth that dissolved at the waist into rubberized, stone-colored cotton. "Literally transitional to match the season," said the designer.
He used the houndstooth in a shift backed in a light silk crepe with a neoprene feel. It was the simplest expression of Erdem's heightened emphasis on the body, which ran all the way to a bustier dress in a glazed stretch cotton lined in girdle fabric. Hard to believe there was a time when all that was missing from an Erdem collection was sex. No longer. A muted eroticism is now one of his calling cards. The draped back revealing the nape of the spine, the scarf points hanging languidly off a floral sheath, the cherry lace infecting a navy gown, also in lace—all these were symptoms of the subtle heat that pulsed at the heart of the collection. They made it easy to see why this designer has won so many other hearts. "Eerily composed" his work may be, but there's devilry in his decorum.