Erdem Moralioglu had a dream summer at the side of Jane Pritchard while she was co-curating the Victoria & Albert Museum's Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929 exhibition, which opens this week. He got to indulge his nosiness: unraveling, turning everything inside out, touching—gasp!—stuff that had actually been worn by Nijinsky himself. What stayed with Moralioglu was a vision of the costumes on their racks, carefully covered with calico, "like ghosts," the designer said.
The experience was so inspiring that it shaped the substance of his Spring collection (and the sound of his show—the music was from the ballet Petrouchka, one of Nijinsky's triumphs). The structure and flou of ballet costumes were clearly reflected in Moralioglu's dresses, with their fitted bodices and flaring skirts. A harlequin pattern the designer found on the racks shaped the patchwork of a shirtdress and pants, the latter paired with a blouse in an utterly ravishing poppy print, also Russian. And Nicholas Kirkwood's gorgeous shoes tied up the calf like ballet slippers.
Russes aside, the delicacy and detail of the clothes were purest Erdem, and liable to send his ever-growing global fan base into transports of desire. One of the simpler examples was also the most mesmerizing: a white lace dress, appliquéd with more white lace, over-embroidered in red to create a veiled vision of loveliness—it managed to blend the designer's affection for the "off" (the red flowers had a bloodlike vividness against the white lace) with the ghostly presence of a calico-covered costume. As well as his signature over-embroidery, Moralioglu scattered Swarovski crystals across the harlequin diamonds of a sundress. The subtle glitter added another facet to the often startling prettiness of his clothes. New this season for Erdem was an undertow of sex appeal. The final floral-printed gown, with its thigh-high slit and floating train, had a summery sensuality that ought to make it a red-carpet cert.