The feeling gets stronger with every new collection from Erdem Moralioglu. The boy is dead keen to push the super-controlled envelope he's created for himself. The inspiration for his new collection was the work of Zenna Henderson, one of the first female sci-fi writers. She created a mythos based on The People, alien refugees from a distant planet. Erdem imagined the women trying to fit in on Earth, but remaining perpetually outside. He patchworked his signature lace with python to suggest a reptilian Otherness. And he created what he called "uncomfortable color combinations," blending pastels with the lurid tones of a toxic spill. It was actually the color palette that best conveyed the Otherness of Erdem's scenario. The lurid nuclear-orange flowers embroidered on a pristine lace background were exactly the sort of "wrong" he is always talking about. But he also explored the idea with the nothing-is-quite-what-it-seems quality of organza-veiled jacquards and brocades, and python masquerading as glazed silk mikado, or the illusion of lace that was actually hand-embroidered PVC.
While working with a Swiss embroidery company on this collection, Erdem found himself delving into their archives from the fifties. It was that era's shapes that ended up defining the collection: full skirts with nipped waists, strapless sheaths, shifts, shirtdresses, box pleats. Henderson wrote about her People in the 1950s. Perhaps it's simple coincidence Erdem landed in the same time frame. Or maybe it's a testament to his complete union of style and substance. In dressing his Women Who Fell to Earth, he may have sublimated the weirdness of his story in favor of the gorgeous precision that has become a virtual Erdem cliché. His followers will be thankful for that. But the rest of us—and maybe even the designer himself—were grateful today that the weirdness lingered, like an ethereal perfume.