A Fashion Show in Touching Tribute to the Memory of Queen Elizabeth II


Erdem’s romantic heroines often look like they stepped out of the pages of a 19th-century novel with their beautiful Toile de Jouy florals and empire-waist dresses with puffed sleeves. It’s a distinctive look that the London-based designer has created over the better part of two decades by immersing himself in art exhibitions and fashion archives, including the world’s largest fashion collection at the British Museum of Decorative Arts and V&A design. And one that couldn’t be further from Gen Z’s preaching of bras and hip cuts that, in recent seasons, has infiltrated many other runways. But as the mononymous creator sees it, that doesn’t mean he’s stuck in the past. Rather, only by looking back can we hope to understand the present.

Erdem’s Spring 2023 collection, shown in London today among the British Museum’s Greek Revival columns, naturally comes at an important moment in British history. London Fashion Week is coinciding with the late Queen Elizabeth II’s layover at Westminster Abbey, which is expected to bring up to a million people to the UK capital – including hundreds of royalty, heads of state and government. – to pay their respects to the late monarch ahead of her funeral tomorrow. All Monday shows and presentations have been canceled and some brands, such as Burberry, have opted to reschedule for later in the month. But Erdem and most of his compatriots, including JW Anderson, Simone Rocha, Christopher Kane, Harris Reed, Chopova Lowena and Nancy Dojaka, believe the show should go on this weekend as a tribute to the monarch who has long championed the British fashion industry. fashion and honored the rise. talents with the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.

The life and times of the queen have often been a point of reference for Erdem; his Resort 2023 collection took cues from long-time florist Constance Spry’s arrangements for her coronation in 1953. “It’s an extremely sad time in London—Her Majesty the Queen was an inspiration and I admire her sense of duty and service,” says Erdem. “The best way for the industry to support British designers is to attend the shows, shoot the collections and buy the collections. It’s a challenging time, but it’s also brought a real sense of solidarity to London.”

come spring 2023

Spring 2023

Jason Lloyd Evans
come spring 2023

Jason Lloyd Evans

Dedicating the collection to the Queen’s memory, Erdem began his show notes with the epigraph “Sorrow is the price we pay for love” – ​​the Queen’s famous words of comfort after the 9/11 attacks. He looked further into history for his reference points this season, sending out a series of black faille corset dresses with leftover 18th-century embroidery and etched Old Masters prints. Many looks featured trailing black ribbon, black net veils or tattered details that referenced historical mourning attire, while the closing look – an optic white corset dress with a full skirt and train and flared skirt covered in black couture net and flower-embroidered tulle—it looked like a photo negative of the queen’s coronation dress.

More broadly, Erdem was inspired this season by the art restoration process, specifically witnessing an 18th-century embroidered dress revived with a complex tulle structure and a damaged 15th-century oil painting, brought back to life based on a 17th century. engraving. “My studio team and I spent a lot of time behind the scenes with the conservators and restoration teams at the British Museum, the National Gallery, Tate Britain and the V&A,” he recalls. “I was thinking about the forensic passion required to devote your life to bringing a work of art back to life, the way some restorers can work on a work for up to twenty years. It’s about obsession and dedication, the way the lines between restoration and housing can become blurred.”

come spring 2023

Spring 2023

Jason Lloyd Evans
come spring 2023

Jason Lloyd Evans

those last words –obsession AND consecration– sounds not unlike Erdem’s own creative process, which is intellectual, deeply researched, creative and always aiming for a greater meaning. The Montreal-raised designer, whose parents are British and Turkish, has championed diversity and inclusion long before those were industry buzzwords. He was the first designer to collaborate with designer Ib Kamara – before Virgil Abloh – and now works with Gabriella Karefa-Johnson.

Erdem creates silhouettes – long skirts, sleeves and high necks – that appeal to a modest Middle Eastern fashion customer, without that being their exclusive aim. Fans include Nicole Kidman, Michelle Dockery, Alexa Chung and Catherine, Princess of Wales – and plenty of women around the world who don’t want to reveal it all. “Fashion should always be inclusive,” says Erdem. “Why create something that only certain body types can wear? When something is well designed, it should fit everyone.” Last year, Erdem made the decision to stock its full collection in sizes ranging from a UK 6 to a UK 22.

“At the end of the day, fashion has always been a reflection of what’s going on in the world,” asserts Erdem. Never was that more evident than in his Fall 2022 collection celebrating Weimar’s pioneering artists, which was shown in London on February 21, three days before Russia invaded Ukraine. In a fashion season where Instagram feeds would become a surreal juxtaposition of women and children fleeing rockets fired at Kiev and business-as-usual fashion in other European capitals, Erdem’s show was a first and one of at least it was serious. engage with the existential threat of authoritarianism. Putting aside his signature florals, Erdem showed off an almost entirely monochrome line-up with Sally Bowles-style bodice over midi dresses and a lace dress teamed with black elbow-length gloves and a sequined boa.

London, England February 21 A model walks the runway at the Erdem show during London Fashion Week February 2022 on February 21, 2022 in London, England photo by john phillipsbfcgetty images for bfc

Fall 2022

John Phillips/BFC
London, England February 21 A model walks the runway at the Erdem show during London Fashion Week February 2022 on February 21, 2022 in London, England photo by john phillipsbfcgetty images for bfc

John Phillips/BFC

“I saw an incredibly powerful exhibition at The Barbican called At night in 2019 that documented the cabaret culture and revolutionary art that emerged from the shadows of an impending war,” Erdem explains of his Fall 2022 inspiration. “There were many parallels between the current situation and the past. Ultimately, I found it fascinating that in the face of oppression, extraordinary women artists like Jeanne Mammen, Madame d’Ora, Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, Anita Berber, and Valeska Gert pioneered their own unique work of avant-garde expressionism. It was their form of protest.

How does Erdem find his starting point each season, I wonder? “I think it’s important to keep evolving, as a brand and as a person,” Erdem replies. “My creative process is always to start with the research, build the narrative, and the collection starts there. Sometimes it takes you to unexpected places.” Unexpected, but not unfamiliar. “In terms of the themes from my last runway collection to this one, they are chapters in the same books, so they will inevitably connect to each other,” adds Erdem.



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