Midway through Erdem‘s Spring 2013 show at London Fashion Week, the power cut out with a dramatic fizzle, yet the poker-faced models kept on marching through the quiet darkness, lending an other-wordly feel to what was already a strange and haunting show. The scene? A geodesic dome set on Manchester Square, where he displayed a standout collection inspired by science fiction and outer space.
Erdem won the inaugural British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund award in 2010 and this year he has been nominated for the BFC New Establishment Award, which recognizes a designer who is “taking the industry by storm.” Senior Fashion Director Tomoko Ogura and Creative Ambassador Simon Doonan visited this young and talented designer in his London studio to find out more—and, naturally, search for spaceships.
Tomoko: So tell us about the inspiration behind collection.
Erdem: This season I was really inspired by a woman named Zenna Henderson, who was one of the first female sci-fi writers. She was a schoolteacher from Arizona. Schoolteacher by day, sci-fi writer by night. So I imagined what Zenna Henderson’s world would look like today. She was always obsessed with this idea of cloning and aliens coming to earth looking like earthlings and trying to blend in. So I had this idea of a female alien invasion.
And then I love the idea of these 1950s silhouettes—those nipped-in, waspy waists—contrasted with really weird, other worldly materials. So I used lots of python and exotic skins, and re-embroidered clear PVC and plastic to create lace. I was also interested in what I call toxic pastels—the idea of really muted, feminine colors mixed with very, very saturated, bright colors and how they react when they’re layered against each other.
Tomoko: And tell us about the space—we loved it.
Erdem: It’s a geodesic dome that my boyfriend found. A geodesic dome is like an architectural, mathematical equation if I’m not mistaken. So we found it and we built the structure in a square in London—Manchester Square in front of the Wallace Collection. It was beautiful—to build this gigantic dome within this garden. It was almost like a spaceship that had landed from outer space. I knew very early on that I wanted to use that structure, because I felt like it went so well with the story of this season’s collection.
Tomoko: And what about the music?
Erdem: Oh yeah, I loved the music. That was really fun to put together. I was listening to a lot of Chromatics and found this wonderful cover of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill. That was a finale song. But it was a weird, modern version of that song.
Tomoko: We loved it. So what are three words that describe the collection?
Erdem: Colorful. Precise. Wrong.
Erdem: Slightly wrong. Simon, do you think that’s an accurate description?
Simon: Yes, there always needs to be a twist; a little perversity. Slightly off.
Erdem: Slightly off. I’ll say that.
Tomoko: So what are you most looking forward to doing in the next month?
Erdem: Well, I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into fall and pre-fall.
Tomoko: Any hints for what we can expect to see?
Erdem: No. I’m still recovering from the power failure.
Runway images courtesy of Style.com.