Erdem (On Location)

London's hottest young fashion designer in his studio and on the V&A catwalk

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On Location: Erdem

The first show I ever did was at the V&A, and it’s a fight to get that space. I mean it was really difficult, because it’s a public space. So yeah, my first show, during London fashion week was at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

So for Fashion and Motion, we’ll be showing probably the most important pieces from each collection, piecing them together in one show. The last dress that’s going to be in the show on Friday will be the last dress that I showed in my first collection at the V&A.

I had quite an interesting upbringing, I grew up in Montreal. My mother was English and my father was Turkish so we would spend our summers visiting each of my parents respective families, which was obviously quite a wild contrast between the two.

Fashion was always something I was obsessed with from a very young age. I constantly drew. For as long as I can remember, my biggest joy as a child was to draw and my mother giving me a sketchbook and crayons. That was the first thing I learnt to do. 

I spent my childhood just absolutely preoccupied with things like colour and fabrics and also I think because my mum was such a kind of Anglophile, having emigrated to Canada quite late on in her life, that she loved and held on to anything that was very English. Even though really what I was maybe exposed to wasn’t, in any way shape or form, a reflection of what it was to be English. Like for instance, Merchant Ivory films. So I grew up with this very romanticised idea of England. And then that turned into, as I grew older, preoccupations with things like David Hockney and then from David Hockney, Ossie Clark and the idea of the English creative.

For me everything came together when I came to Royal College. It was such an amazing kind of growing period. It was two years where it was just absolutely concentrated on developing an identity as a designer.

I’ve always been fascinated by colour and contrast. I mean contrast has always been a real sticking point for me so the idea of mixing something that’s quite masculine with something feminine, something that’s very bright with something that’s very dark.

It starts really from me sketching, doing a drawing of a silhouette, and then from there it goes to a pattern cutter where the initial shape’s developed, and then from there we do a twelve fitting. We might do three of four of these to perfect the fit and then we’ll make it in the real fabric for the first sample, and from there we can go into production.

One of the handmade dresses, for instance, can take up to two weeks. The first look from Spring/Summer this year, which will be actually the first look from the show at the V&A, was probably the most involved dress, certainly embroidery wise, that we’ve ever done. It has over two thousand hand embroidered flowers. And that took in itself well over two weeks to complete, with numerous people working on it.

I’ve always been interested in using technology, but in a way it’s always been really important that the work has a very human hand. So even if it’s been done on a computer, like a digital print for instance, it’s important that it looks like its been done by hand. There’s something irregular about it, there’s something not quite perfect. I’ve always been fascinated by the imperfection of things. The beautiful imperfections.

I’ve met women who wear my clothes that are well into their late sixties. I’ve also dressed young girls that are fourteen, fifteen, sixteen. I think above everything, for me, the most fascinating thing is to actually provide a woman with something they feel completely and utterly beautiful in.

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Since he started his own label, Erdem Moralioglu has emerged as one of the hottest young designers in London. As Erdem prepared for a special 'Fashion in Motion' catwalk show in the V&A's Raphael galleries, he met V&A Channel at his east London studio to talk over his roots, his influences and his ambitions.

Erdem explains how his Anglo-Turkish-Canadian background influenced his aesthetic and reveals why he now thinks of London as home