For Erdem Moralioglu, collaborating with H&M afforded him the opportunity to revisit his past and mine his personal history. By Zara Wong.
L“THIS FEELS LOOSER THAN MY CATWALK COLLECTIONS, AND ALSO VERY DEMOCRATIC”
ast year, on a bitterly cold spring day in London, Erdem Moralioglu took guests through his resort collection in his Mayfair store. I’d flown in from much warmer Sydney, so Moralioglu pulled out a leopard-print fur coat and joked to me that it would be the perfect antidote to the London weather. I relegated that coat to the dream category of my mental shopping list, concocting instead a more fabulous existence for it, to be worn traipsing around one’s French chateau or one’s Scottish moor property. But here at the H&M Australia showroom, I sight an Erdem x H&M leopard-print faux-fur coat that gave me the same frisson of fashion what-ifs with its design – and its price. It’s to be expected from the Scandinavian retailer, but seeing the quality and workmanship in person never ceases to surprise and delight.
“There’s something about this collaboration that feels looser than my catwalk collections, and also very democratic,” says Moralioglu, who tells Vogue how he drew on his past creations, re-working shapes and silhouettes, such as a pleated dress from a 2005 collection, rather than on a singular narrative, as he is wont to do. “With each of our collaborations, we say to the designers that we want the true essence of their brand,” says H&M’s Ann-Sofie Johansson, the woman tasked with producing the samples for the designers, who “often can’t believe what we’ve managed to achieve”. After Balmain and Kenzo, “the timing felt right for a collaboration with a British designer well known for his romantic and feminine style”, she adds. “I feel we need more beauty in the world these days.”
The Canadian-born, London-based designer also looked to his own childhood: “I was thinking about pieces that my mother wore, like when she would borrow my father’s coat to drive us to school.” Knits reference a Norwegian-style jumper that he had worn in school and styles seen in Twin Peaks, which he loved to watch as a teenager.
Of working with him, Johansson points to his warmth and friendliness. “He loves people and has such a great understanding of who wears his clothes – it’s like they are his friends,” she says. “He’s also very specific and has an eye for perfection … it was exciting for us to work with someone who cared so much about every single detail.” The main label’s delicacy and whiffs of romanticism are captured in the H&M collaboration, with a mock crocodile handbag decorated with crystal patterns, as if brooches had been attached to a vintage handbag; a white lace blouse collared with pleats and interlaced black ribbon; and a tweed skirt with the edges artfully frayed, giving the piece a sense of undone modernity. “We always like to think big at H&M and to give our customers something special that’s completely unexpected,” says Johansson. “For us, it is always important to choose the best fabric for each garment, offering the best value for money.”
A first for Moralioglu is menswear, which allowed him to design for himself but to also maintain a “dialogue between the two worlds” between menswear and womenswear. “I remember we were fitting the men’s jacket, and we tried it on the female model to see how she looked,” he recalls. “It was a real moment for us, because she looked so wonderful and relevant. It led to us creating a double-breasted jacket for the women’s collection, which is now my favourite in the whole collections.”
The combination of his own history and that of his brand made the collaboration a unique experience. “Because so much of the past 12 years is woven into the collection, it felt so good to have the opportunity to look at the things I’ve done in the past and redevelop them – it was so exciting. The whole project has felt so personal.”
FITTING ONE OF THE PIECES FROM THE ERDEM X H&M COLLECTION ON A MODEL. DETAIL OF THE DESIGNER’S MOOD BOARD. A BAG FROM THE COLLECTION.
ANN-SOFIE JOHANSSON OF H&M AND ERDEM MORALIOGLU DURING THE COLLECTION FITTINGS.