The beauty of Erdem’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection is a sure-fire bestseller, but there was a haunting narrative woven throughout the presentation that will linger on our conscious long after the season ends. Backstage, designer Erdem Moralioglu discussed the unusual influence behind his show, which he attributed to a mental affliction called “prairie madness”. In short, when the Homestead Act of 1862 passed in the United States, there was a clause in it that allowed women to own their own parcel of land. Naturally, the promise of “free land” enticed millions of immigrants to come over from Europe, hungry to stake a claim on their own corner of the world. But the isolation and harsh living conditions of the Great Plains led some to misfortune and madness. For Spring/Summer 2016, Moralioglu imagined the migration of European women to the United States searching for the promised land and, once finding it, succumbing to “prairie madness”. It was certainly a somber and thought-provoking underpinning to what was, on the surface at least, a lovely and impressive presentation.
At this point in Fashion Month, the “cold-shoulder” look is a firmly cemented trend, and Moralioglu was not averse to embracing it. Dozens of his dresses featured the popular shoulder cutout, which effectively drops the sleeve to the bicep. His sleeves clung to the arm with Chantilly lace, chiffon, or embroidered knit edges. Although the Great Plains he spoke of backstage were front and center on pastoral prints, most of the styles ran to the Edwardian. High-necked ruffled dresses harkened from a bygone era, but when completed with luminous embroidery, cutouts, and masterful tailoring, they were anything but old fashioned. On some looks, multicolored strips of guipure and doily lace were stitched together to create a textured canopy, while others featured a riot of shredded ruffles and embroidery. Throughout the presentation, it seemed like his sweet floral prints were constantly on the verge of coming undone, effectively placing looks more in the vicinity of “Madhouse on the Prairie” than “Little House on the Prairie”. However, Moralioglu thoughtfully transformed his set into a railway station, so that his tortured beauties could escape from cruel isolation to find happiness.
Photos: Courtesy of Imaxtree