Without a doubt Erdem’s namesake brand has had an extraordinary fifteen years in fashion with many highlights. T-VINE takes a look back at some of the London-based Canadian-Turkish designer’s most memorable moments.
Erdem is known for championing inclusion and diversity. When British Vogue asked him to pick 15 unforgettable moments from his career, he said when model Hunter Schafer walked in the final look of his Spring/Summer 2019 collection, he was “mesmerised”.
I remember that 2018 show vividly as I wrote a review that focussed on how diversity was at the heart of Erdem’s event.
Among all the European brands presenting collections that season, Erdem had the greatest number of transgender models, including Schafer, on the catwalk. Moreover, both in his collection and on the catwalk, he celebrated the power of dressing up to feel free beyond the prescribed boundaries of sex, inspired by Victorian cross-dressers Fanny and Stella.
Erdem said that another of his career highlights was joining forces with Ibrahim ‘Ib’ Kamara, who interrogates masculinity through his styling and art direction. Kamara has styled all of Erdem’s collections and shows since 2019, including his latest Spring/Summer 2022 show and the label’s first ever menswear collection, which launched last year.
In September, Erdem showcased his stunning SS22 womenswear collection at the British Museum to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of his brand. He again drew inspiration from two historical personalities.
This time, the spotlight was on British poet Edith Sitwell and aristocrat Ottoline Morrell. Both women dressed independently from the fashions of their times, forging their identities through flamboyance and eccentricity, as much as their respective poetry and cultural patronage.
Erdem has always been about empowering individual expression, so he wanted to celebrate Sitwell and Morrell’s passionate individualism. The mood was one of wistful glamour and elegant insouciance reflecting their personalities with cinched tailoring and a variety of embellishments.
He actually gave hints at its menswear crossover with this show, as he worked with several male models on the runway. “The boundaries between womenswear and menswear are evermore fluid—and exciting,” he said to W magazine and added he and his twin sister swapped clothes all the time as children.
This approach reminds me of his womenswear SS19 show once again, as he used models displaying hairy legs, combined with footwear inspired by Victorian male shoes.
No surprise, musician Harry Style who is known for his gender fluid style, also champions Erdem.
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Erdem’s menswear collection is inspired by Derek Jarman, an English film director, author and gay rights activist. Erdem’s signature floral prints were a perfect fit for these garments, as Derek was also an avid gardener.
As a champion for inclusive fashion, he also collaborated the size-inclusive brand Universal Standard earlier last year.
This year he is on a new venture as he stepped into homeware with throw blankets, featuring floral prints from his collections, and constructed from merino wool and cashmere.
We wanted to check how ethical his usage of wool and sadly, his animal rating is ‘not good enough’ according to Good on You, as he also uses leather, exotic animal hair (feather) and silk.
He is part of a lobby initiative to ban fur in the UK with other prominent British designers such as Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood, so hopefully he reconsiders his approach to other materials he uses.
Having studied fashion in London, the Montreal-born designer has been firmly based in the British capital since 2005. He was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020, which he received in November 2021.
All fashion images from Erdem’s 15th anniversary Spring Summer 2022 collection catwalk at the British Museum, 19 September 2021. Photos © Erdem