It was all about prairie madness at the Erdem Spring/Summer 2016 runway show during London Fashion Week. Colorful floral designs and Victorian influences were found throughout the collection as models walked down a dimly lit, earthen runway. Billowing dresses, covered in floral motifs and rows of ruffles may have made it seem as if Erdem was just crazy about Laura Ingles Wider, but the madness that he speaks of in the collection may have run a little deeper than that.
Inspired by “the ideas of displacement and his heroine's introduction to the open plain,” the collection suddenly becomes less about his attention to style in the Midwest and more about history’s effect on pioneering women. It can be said that Erdem Moralioglu designs for a very specific character in mind—last season he focused on the story of a down-and-out heiress and before that the life of a Victorian botanist. This season he focused on the trials and tribulations of America’s early settlers.
“It was about prairie madness,” he explained to Vogue backstage. “In 1862, Abraham Lincoln passed the Homestead Act, which gave single women and widows the right to their own plots of land in the West, as long as they stayed there for five years. So there were all these women coming from their homes in Europe, bringing their clothes and the remnants of their lives in Norway and Germany and places like that—and they started to suffer from agoraphobia and all kinds of psychological illnesses.”
But this wasn’t the prairie, and the models coming down the runway were not fighting for their sanity in an attempt to keep their land. Instead Erdem took this tragic time period and translated it into something beautiful. Voluminous sleeves tumbled off the shoulders of models, long tiered gowns moved gracefully around their ankles and jabot collars were ruffled at their neck. The collection was a blend of both European fashion and simple prairie style that came together in a successful, albeit dark, collection.