Fu­ture Fash­ion Master

Cana­dian fash­ion de­signer Er­dem may be in­spired by his Turk­ish roots but, as Jeanne Beker finds, he is a hit around the globe

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Er­dem is a global hit

FLO­RALS WILL BE EVERY­WHERE this fall, but Mon­treal-born, Lon­don-based Er­dem Mo­rali­oglu has long been aware of their ir­re­sistible ap­peal. In fact, it’s those very kinds of fem­i­nine prints and in­tri­cate em­broi­deries that have be­come the de­signer’s sig­na­ture since he launched his de­but col­lec­tion in the UK in 2005. Known sim­ply as “Er­dem,” the 40-year-old fash­ion vi­sion­ary has be­come one of Canada’s most cel­e­brated fash­ion ex­ports and, judg­ing by the le­gion of celebrities who adore his de­signs, he’s also one of fash­ion’s hottest tal­ents. From Ni­cole Kid­man and Emma Stone, to the Duchess of Cam­bridge, Michelle Obama and So­phie Gre­goire Trudeau, stylish women look to Er­dem for his state­ment-mak­ing, up­beat pieces. “It’s a great priv­i­lege to have the op­por­tu­nity to dress th­ese amaz­ing, in­tel­li­gent, cre­ative women,” says the ap­pre­cia­tive de­signer. “And one of the nicest things is to be able to see your work out of the con­text of a cat­walk or an edi­to­rial, and to ac­tu­ally see it be­ing worn by th­ese women.”

A grad­u­ate of Ry­er­son Univer­sity’s Fash­ion School, Er­dem moved to Lon­don to in­tern for Vivi­enne West­wood be­fore en­rolling at the Royal Col­lege of Art. He then worked with Diane Von Fursten­berg in New York City be­fore launch­ing his own col­lec­tion in 2005. It was an in­stant hit, and lux­ury re­tail­ers clam­oured to buy the line. By 2010, Er­dem won the cov­eted Bri­tish Fash­ion Coun­cil/vogue De­signer Fash­ion Fund award: a whop­ping £200,000! And his star con­tin­ues to rise. This past April, Er­dem was pre­sented with the Cana­dian Arts and Fash­ion Award (CAFA) for Best In­ter­na­tional De­signer. Toronto’s Suzanne Rogers, a phi­lan­thropist and the head of the new Suzanne Rogers Fash­ion In­sti­tute at Ry­er­son, and her daugh­ter Chloe, pre­sented Er­dem with the award. Rogers notes that the de­signer’s her­itage, be­ing raised by an English mother and a Turk­ish fa­ther, shines through in his work. “He com­bines del­i­cate so­phis­ti­ca­tion and ex­quis­ite crafts­man­ship with bold vi­vac­ity. He’s of the world, but I’m so proud that we can call him ours!” says Rogers.

I had the priv­i­lege of wear­ing Er­dem when I cov­ered Kate Mid­dle­ton and Prince Wil­liam’s wed­ding: a soft aqua and coral flower print sheath dress, rem­i­nis­cent of a Monet paint­ing. It was Ni­cholas Mel­lam­phy, the for­mer cre­ative direc­tor of The Room, who first dressed me in Er­dem, turn­ing me on to his art­ful wares. Mel­lam­phy was in­tro­duced to the de­signer while he was still a stu­dent at Ry­er­son. “The fact that his bril­liance as a de­signer was im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent was a bless­ing,” says Mel­lam­phy. “But it’s his hu­mil­ity that’s taken him to the next level and al­lowed the world to em­brace his work.”

Once dubbed “Bri­tain’s an­swer to Chris­tian Lacroix,” Er­dem has been gen­er­ous when it comes to hon­our­ing his Cana­dian roots, and vis­ited Toronto in 2014 to speak with fash­ion stu­dents about what it takes to make it on the world stage. He cred­ited his late par­ents for much of his suc­cess. “I feel that my par­ents in­stilled in us a kind of fear­less­ness,” he told me, “a feel­ing that you could do what­ever you want to do, and that was the most im­por­tant thing. And to a cer­tain ex­tent I felt root­less in a way, be­cause half of my fam­ily was in Eng­land and the other half was in Turkey. My twin sister and I were the only Cana­di­ans in our fam­ily. And I think with that, you find your­self adapt­ing to dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions,” Er­dem re­flected. “I look back at how I started the com­pany when I was 27. And age may have some­thing to do with it. You’re kind of fear­less when you’re younger, so it’s that. Ig­no­rance is bliss.”

“It’s a great priv­i­lege to have the op­por­tu­nity to dress th­ese amaz­ing, in­tel­li­gent, cre­ative women”

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