For Pre Fall 23, Erdem is examining a period in the second half of the 19th century when the dawning impact of industrialisation was on the horizon. This was an era of significant tension and change. Received wisdoms were open for questioning. Craft was forging new relationships with industry. Society and social values were reconfigured. The strictness of former times was under scrutiny as the wealth of possibility and opportunity became tangible beyond the establishment.
This was an equally fertile era for sartorial experimentation, and Erdem plays with various codes of Victoriana throughout the collection. Society meets utility. Handwork meets machine technology. Eveningwear is combined with daywear. The structure of undergarments are visible as
dresses and outerwear.
Tailoring and textiles are combined in novel ways. High-neck, puff-sleeves dresses in Broderie Anglaise bring the language of undergarments into the open. A tulle skirt conceals an embroidered silk dress adding a layer of propriety. Pleated Victorian bibs beaded in black jet are glamorous and haughty simultaneously. Corsetry and boning are played with in various forms, in places tightened, in others undone, alluding to the shifting social status of women in this era.
Cultural tropes of high and low society are intertwined. Trench coats, over coats and opera coats, are worn in juxtaposition with every day and eveningwear. Tailored suits are combined with looser garments. Volumes are played with to heighten and reduce the formality and informality of tailoring. Bows, gloves and jewellery bring a graphic element to looks.
Experimentation with industry introduces a mood of modernity, both subtle and dramatic. The opportunities presented by machine-made textiles in colour, print and treatment are all evident. Arsenic, cerulean blues and diaphanous pinks suggest the manufacture of wallpapers and curtain fabrics has been extended into fashion. There are silhouetted floral prints on dresses, borrowed from cyanotype photography. Denim that appears to be printed in in fact laser cut, adding a compelling and
delicate fineness from machine.
Such expressions combine to bring an optimistic energy to the collection. This era of change would herald great advances across society and life that would usher in the modern era. An atmosphere that has been captured by photographer Nadine Ijewere, working for the first time with Erdem.