September 21, 2009
Looking at almost any piece in Erdem Moralioglu's Spring/Summer collection is to be drawn into a world of surreally intense color and decoration. Take his opening dress: a flower garden of minute overlapping 3-D embroidered violet and yellow pansies on a bed of green. Or a china-blue taffeta puff-sleeved, bell-skirted dress overlaid with scattered fragments of black French lace. Or a pair of matching silk shorts and a "samurai" T-shirt with tablike pie frill at the neck and shoulder, covered with another multicolored pansy print on a lime background.
"I really didn't want anything blurred this season," Moralioglu said. "I wanted it to have a surreal focus." He attributed some of the feeling to the visual jolt he felt at being immersed in Japanese art and culture on a trip to Kyoto and Miyajima island this summer. Mostly, he traces the mood of his show to looking at twenties illustrations of modan garus (a Japanese phonetic translation of "modern girls"), who rejected the kimono and started wearing Western dress. "Although," he shrugged, "I never really do theme. I always think it should just be like reading the next chapter of the same book."
Moralioglu's shoes, a fusion of Mary Janes and geisha wedges, also smothered in printed flowery fabric, ended up being the only overt clue to the designer's Asian sources, not that it mattered very much. The main point is that he is moving forward, at the right speed. He's not leaving his signatures behind (like the lace-covered mackintosh trench) but adding simpler items, like the silk T-shirts, while becoming ever more recognizably exceptional.