This collection is a love letter to London’s idiosyncratic soul, told in a dance between two extraordinary and timeless women: Edith Sitwell and Ottoline Morrell. Together, they encapsulate the city’s fervent spirit which, for me, is an endless inspiration. Sitwell and Morrell were enigmatic characters who lived on the peripheries between myth and reality. Both were six feet tall, with strikingly sculpted features. Neither was interested in fitting in. On the contrary, they relished standing out.
The mood is one of wistful glamour and elegant insouciance, reflecting the personalities of our protagonists. An earthy purity of textiles – waxed cottons, raw and crushed linens – are elevated with cinched tailoring and a variety of embellishments. Hand-stitched crystal beads bring opulence to a raw linen dress and pencil skirt. A crushed linen dress, neatly gathered at the waist and neckline, is softened with a re-embroidered lace motif.
Patchwork quilted dresses in mismatched fabrics feel elegantly crafted. Bold floral prints on matching chiné suits have a distinctly bookish air. Combined with handsome leather brogues, they have an intelligent air of defiance. Elsewhere, enlarged etched black floral prints, bold monochrome patterned fabrics and structured pleats bring a graphic modernity to more feminine silhouettes.
There are direct references to quintessential pieces worn by Sitwell and Morrell: a slouchy yet structured waxed cotton trench coat with large mother of pearl buttons from the wardrobe of the former; and the legendary oversized wrinkled, crushed satin hats of the latter. Sitwell’s characterful oversized jewellery peppers the collection with moments of riotous, glamorous bohemia.
Ribbons, lace and botanical prints introduce moments of ethereal softness and rust-coloured sequins add an evening sparkle. Sheer broderie anglaise dresses and white cotton poplin skirts feel confident and pretty with a subtle edge. There are boyish garments too – reminiscent of the counterpart characters and romantic interests that featured in the lives and wardrobes of both women. Shrunken knits, faded denims, long choirboy shirts with ruffles under tweed jackets bring an almost new romantic note to the collection.
Both Sitwell and Morrell dressed independently from the fashions of their times, forging their identities through flamboyance and eccentricity, as much as their respective poetry (Sitwell) and cultural patronage (Morrell). They were simultaneously fetishized and ridiculed for the intensity of their otherness, variously described as neurotic, exquisite, pretentious, demonic even. It is their passionate individualism that we celebrate here today. Erdem is – and has always been – about empowering individual expression.
All images courtesy of Erdem
Photography: Jason Lloyd Evans
Styling: Ibrahim Kamara
Hair: Larry King for DYSON and Redken
Make up: Jane Richardson for NARS
Casting: Noah Shelley
Millenary by Noel Stewart for ERDEM
Show Production: OBO
Music Arranged by Natalie Holt