Erdem’s spring/summer 2016 ready-to-wear line tells its own story, but it may not have been exactly what the designer had in mind. At first look, the collection appears to tell a haunting, Victorian paranormal story, featuring women with gaunt looks on their spellbound faces. While this is a perfectly plausible trend by looking at the collection, it goes deeper than that.
Erdem explained his inspiration, and there was definitely madness to his method. “It was about prairie madness.” That concept alone can be seen in his collection, but he continued on to explain that the Homestead Act of 1862 gave “women and widows the right to their own plots of land in the West, as long as they stayed there for five years.” He went on to say that many women travelled to the American prairies in the West from Europe, wearing the clothes from their lives back in countries like Norway and Germany. Finally, he confided the last piece to the puzzle; the final aspect that really shines in his collection: “[The women] started to suffer from agoraphobia and all kinds of psychological illnesses,” which would have even included suicide.
So I guess the initial thoughts of the Erdem spring 2016 collection weren’t too far from the truth. The Victorian garments were combined with that of the prairie clothes from the women of the West during that century, and the ghostly presence of the women could likely resemble those women who went insane, or even so far as to kill themselves. The models definitely appeared to be trapped in time: displaying new, slinkier perspectives of the old female apparel of the West, mixed with that of the Victorian Era in Europe.
Despite the tragic backstory of his inspiration, you cannot disregard the romance woven into the story. While many fashion shows have a focus on the clothes, Erdem’s shows are about the overall experience. That is what makes it so hard to simply review the clothing walking down the runway without first raving about the developed backstory of the fantastical character Erdem chose to design for in this show.
Now, however, to move on to the clothes themselves, they were as well developed as his story. From the high necks reminiscing the Victorian and prairie eras, I was blown away from the moment the first model stepped onto the dim catwalk. You cannot ignore the structure of each garment, either. There is so much detail work put into maneuvering the fabric just so, in order to create the perfect cascading angles for each outfit.
One beautifully structured piece, and possible the piece from the collection I would most like to own, was his structured jacket, paired with a white layered skirt. The hard-lined jacket juxtaposed with the petticoat-esque skirt was the perfect balance for the woman Erdem created. Not to mention the fact that I can imagine at least ten outfits on the top of my head that would allow me to wear that impeccable jacket.
His greatest success of the evening, however, was with his deconstructed gowns. With dangling straps and apparent distress, the models appeared to be, quite literally, undone, much as the women who succumbed to psychological illness, from the backstory. This collection makes it very difficult to pick out pieces to talk about, because they all go together perfectly as a story. But you can see for yourself the gorgeous garments presented in the Erdem line, and can make your own assessments on each one.
Photos courtesy of Vogue