Erdem: Royal jazz in Windsor Castle
“I love the idea of changing roles. So this was a jazz singer in a royal palace or the Queen in a nightclub,” smiled Erdem Moralioglu after staging a remarkable show in London.
A waft of couture flooded through the UK capital on a wet Monday, nowhere more so than at Erdem. The designer spent time this summer researching the Queen’s own private wardrobe inside Windsor Castle.
While there he stumbled upon a 1958 photo of the Queen meeting Duke Ellington in, of all places, Leeds, which got the creative juices flowing. Apparently, her father King George VI was a huge fan of Duke.
The result managing to be racy and ladylike at he same time. His lookbook brilliantly captured the mood, with shots of the Queen dancing, and jazz singer Dorothy Dandridge smoldering in silk.
The actual collection was worthy of a top Paris couture atelier; as Erdem played with British references like thistles, leeks and roses working them into marvelous ballgowns. These were inspired by dresses worn by bridesmaids at the Queen’s coronation. Then somewhat weirdly cut above the ankle and left unfinished.
He also sent out dramatically flared coatdresses in wild jacquards; and several magnificent faded Prince of Wales coats with bold vertical bows. All anchored by high-heels and elongated satin espadrilles covered with pearls.
“I wanted to take formality and turn it on its head,” explained the Turkish-Canadian designer backstage, pointedly thanking Caroline de Guitaut, head of decorative arts of the Royal Collection Trust for making this collection possible.
Erdem does have a narrow oeuvre. There was not a single pair of trousers in this show. But the collection was a thing of tremendous beauty. Staged in a disused garage redone as a decadent 1950s jazz bar, the show received an enormous burst of applause.
“Duke Ellington was so enamored with the Queen after meeting her that he wrote this wonderful sexy, dramatic piece of music. It went missing in the Smithsonian and only got played recently in 2002. After only being played once!” enthused Erdem, whose finale was The Queen’s Suite by Ellington and his orchestra.
“So, I was thinking about the Duke and the Cotton Club and Dorothy Dandridge, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. I wanted a wonderful exchange, a switching of roles. As if the Queen had danced all night. Two great different worlds colliding. After this summer we needed something celebratory,” he concluded after staging London’s first fashion moment this season.
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