Erdem infuses his collections with narrative – it’s part of the reason why his shows stay so vividly in the mind. This time the backstory was of the arrest, in 1870, of Fanny and Stella who were charged with “inciting persons to commit an unnatural offence.” Fanny and Stella were really Frederick Park and Earnest Boulton, two popular nightlife figures who faced censure for their flamboyant female garb. That was the starting point for the designer’s exploration of Victorian ideas of propriety and femininity overlaid with the gender fluid mood of our times. The shapes referenced the 1870’s with leg-o-mutton sleeves, cinched waists and high-necked, floor-length floral gowns with sweeping trains. There was a grandeur at play. One dress clinked with jet beads as it swept past. Clothes were festooned with taffeta swags and bows, silhouettes were imposing and faces dramatically veiled beneath vast picture hats. It was about nighttime and finery as opposed to anything casual. For Erdem, this dazzling look-at-me collection was also about the importance of self expression through clothes. Boldness and bravery are not just required, they are necessary.
Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans.