Erdem Moralioglu's show at Senate House, one of London University's halls, allowed him to shed his "rising British star" status and finally join the ranks of global fashion superstars. Fashionistas from the world's most important magazines turned out in force to support the Canadian-born designer, openly weeping at the finale when models in fluttering, ankle-length gowns swept past each other on a marble staircase.
"The collection had a lot to do with the Great North," said the designer, who originally hails from Montreal, as he explained his misty colour palette was inspired by the sort of weird, architectural skylines found in the Arctic. "My sister works for a natural history programme and keeps sending me wild images," Moralioglu said backstage. Outerwear, such as the cape that opened the show, and knitwear were added to the mix for the new collection but it was Moralioglu's otherworldly dresses, especially one featuring embroidered organza ribbon with panniers jutting out from the model's hips, that truly stood out.
"There's always been a tradition of evening wear in London but Erdem, along with Christopher Kane and Richard Nicoll, are the new generation of designers who are not only upholding the deep-rooted traditions of craft, but are equally about creativity and quality," said American Vogue's Mark Holgate. "They create evening dresses for women who don't get dressed up." Earlier, Kane showed a standout collection featuring black leather and lace embroidered with wild flowers, which is bound to impact on trends for the autumn/winter 2010 season.
"Technologically it was a huge challenge to match all the fabrics together," said Tammy Kane, the designer's sister and business partner. "We had an instinct to do leather. Then halfway through designing the collection, Christopher saw an Elvis Presley documentary so it suddenly became all about the young Priscilla (Presley)." As well as hourglass shifts made from the finest calfskin, there were tailored wool skirt suits made by Norton & Sons, the famous tailors on London's Savile Row, and handmade kilts from the Isle of Lewis in Scotland.
All the embroidery was done by hand in India. The Kanes will also be showing their collection during Mumbai Fashion Week in March. Accessories included lace-up, high-heeled ankle boots inspired by Scottish dancing shoes (the 24-year-old designer, who studied at Central St Martins, hails from Scotland). The black leather was a severe departure from the fluid checks and pleats of his current spring range, and sends fashion off on a new path.
"I always want to do something different each season," he said. "Otherwise I get bored. But I've got a really good feeling about this collection."