Erdem Moralıoğlu enlisted principal ballerinas both past and present to help model his autumn/winter 2021 collection, for which he drew inspiration from the legendary partnership of Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, and the hive of activity in the wings in those breathless moments before curtain up.
Below, five things to know about Erdem’s ballet-inspired autumn/winter 2021 presentation.
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Ballet was the star of the show
Erdem Moralıoğlu drew on his stint at the Royal Opera House for his autumn/winter 2021 collection (the designer created the costumes for Corybantic Games in 2018). He was inspired by the way the dancers dashed about backstage before lights up, half in their everyday dance wear, half in their elaborate stage costumes. “I had this idea for the show—maybe it’s about what happens in the wings of a theatre,” the designer explained. “When I was working on the ballet, that was the moment I found so exciting.” Erdem duly gave us exquisite plumed skirts, feathered evening jackets and elaborate Swan Lake headpieces, but also body-conscious tops and soft grey knitwear.
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Real ballerinas joined models on the runway
Erdem cast four accomplished ballerinas alongside the models: Elizabeth McGorian, who at 62 is Principal Character Artist at the Royal Ballet, 72-year-old Marguerite Porter, Zenaida Yanowsky and Christina Arestis. “Regardless if you’re 60 or 70, you remain a dancer for the rest of your life,” says the designer. Also feeding into the age positive mood: the relationship between Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn—a key narrative underpinning the short film Moralıoğlu unveiled with the collection. “When they met, he was 22 and she was 43… There was something about the arc of a dancer’s career that I found quite inspiring.”
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At Erdem, even “comfort wear” sparkles
For the “rehearsal” element of the dancer’s world, leotards and soft knitted cardigans were reimagined as body-con tops, stretchy headbands, gently cinching cummerbunds and quietly dramatic pleated skirts. Though muted for a designer famous for his exquisitely romantic evening gowns, these comparatively dressed-down looks—still sprinkled with jewel embellishments and sparkling shoulder-duster earrings—were anything but drab.
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Ballet slippers were given a subversive twist
Several of the looks—including inflated opera coats daubed with overblown florals—were styled with sweet ribbon-tie ballet slippers given a subversive twist. Instead of flats, they were elevated on stilted platforms that gave his silhouette an air of fetish. Those ballooning opera coats were in deliberate contrast to the “control” evoked by the nipped-in waists of pretty satin dresses. “The contrasts, the dichotomies of a dancer… That Hitchcockian self-possession and drive for perfection,” Erdem said. “I find the psychology of it interesting.”
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It heralded the imminent return of dressing up
The halfway point between rehearsal and stage wardrobes that so inspired Erdem also serves as a neat analogy for this particular point in time, as the nation cautiously readies itself to finally emerge from the loungewear-filled chrysalis of the last year. “There were two parts to my brain: stripping everything back, and decadence, opulence,” said the designer. Between the jewel-encrusted dresses, perfectly sculpted sleeves and feather-trimmed skirts, he’s given us much to look forward to.
This article was originally published on British Vogue