Erdem Moralioglu’s show venue today was in perfect keeping with his inspiration—the tropics. Guests filed into the Old Selfridges Hotel, a now disused industrial space behind London’s iconic department store, to find it was boiling hot inside—nothing like a fully immersive fashion experience to get you in the mood. And after all, that is what Erdem does—immerses himself fully, the method actor of the London Fashion Week schedule.
Inside the darkened show-space, tropical plants lined the runway—a perfect hint at what was to come. At first glance, you might think that Lady Chatterley and her garden goings-on had something to do with Erdem’s spring-summer collection, but he was, in fact, inspired by the Victorian botanist, Marianne North. What he showed was a collection smattered with tropical plant and flower references here and there, and a truly Victorian silhouette in certain pieces.
At first, dark green fronds rose up slim-fitting, ankle-length dresses, right up to, and around, the base of the neck, like a strangling vine. Elsewhere, green and blue florals just about covered enough skin on a dress with arched black stitching reminiscent of a greenhouse frame. There was floor-length white lace and a pop of summer color in a laser-cut canary yellow ensemble, and the tropical bird theme continued in a series of pieces with feathers stitched into the material—a level of detail not to be sniffed at in a ready-to-wear collection.
The feathery fashions were eye-catching on a sleeveless top, which was followed by the same in skirt form, and on a mini-dress where the combination of black, cobalt and pale blue feathers beneath the frilled collar almost looked like camouflage. Erdem took his penchant for plumage to its most extreme in a long-sleeved dress covered in seemingly thousands of feathers in a dark racing green, and then on a cropped halter top in the same color and a contrasting blue midi-length skirt.
The final two gowns, both floor length lace embroidered with florals, took the Victorian botany moment to its conclusion and allowed Erdem to push something that had felt present throughout this collection—a darkness and a feeling that something lay beneath the tropical undergrowth. It is certainly not the enormous talent of this designer, which there is simply no hiding, camouflage or none.