Cana­dian de­signer draws on child­hood mem­o­ries for H&M

Er­dem Mo­rali­oglu joins forces with Swedish re­tail com­pany to launch fash­ion col­lab­o­ra­tion

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There is a Cana­dian con­nec­tion to the new­est buzzy H&M de­signer col­lab­o­ra­tion.

On Nov. 2, at select stores and on­line, Er­dem x H&M will launch with a col­lec­tion of 30 to 35 women’s styles and10 to15 ac­ces­sories, as well as around 20 men’s styles and 10 ac­ces­sories, a first for the la­bel. The lim­ited-edi­tion event is ex­pected to gen­er­ate the same sell­out frenzy of pre­vi­ous years’ col­lab­o­ra­tions, from the likes of Alexan­der Wang, Ba­len­ci­aga, Marni, Ver­sace and Commes des Gar­cons, among oth­ers.

Er­dem Mo­rali­oglu was born in Mon­treal in 1976 to a Turk­ish fa­ther and a Bri­tish mother. His epony­mous la­bel is known for his ex­otic and in­tri­cate prints and fab­rics cut with a ro­man­tic flow. His work has been em­braced mem­o­rably by celebrity fans from Kate Mid­dle­ton and Meghan Markle, to Michelle Obama, Keira Knight­ley, Claire Foy, Jes­sica Chas­tain and Ni­cole Kid­man.

Er­dem de­vel­oped his sig­na­ture look early on, hon­ing his craft at Ry­er­son Univer­sity, where he earned a BA in de­sign. He car­ried on to Lon­don to be­come the star of the Royal Col­lege of Art grad­u­ate class of 2003, fol­lowed by in­tern­ships at print-master Diane von Fursten­berg in New York, then ro­man­ti­cist rebel Vivi­enne West­wood back in Lon­don, be­fore launch­ing his own line in 2005.

Known for the elab­o­rate back­sto­ries he in­vents for his col­lec­tions, Mo­rali­oglu is ever-play­ful about the H&M in­spi­ra­tion: “In­spired by the Pet Shop Boys mu­sic video ‘Be­ing Bor­ing,’ I imag­ined a group of young friends in­vad­ing an English coun­try house for the week­end, and that idea of wear­ing a ball gown with a pair of train­ers, or a guy in silk py­ja­mas with a tweed jacket that he found on the back of a door.”

He says de­sign­ing this col­lab­o­ra­tion col­lec­tion was a chance to look back through his work and themes over the years, such as the sun­ray plisse dress that was in his first-ever col­lec­tion, or Vic­to­rian but­ton­holes from a col­lec­tion three years ago. He adds, “I also looked at my own per­sonal mem­o­ries, my child­hood and my fam­ily, and things that in­spire me in pop cul­ture.” Even though prices will range from $29.99 to $299, he says “Ev­ery­thing is exquisitely de­tailed and beau­ti­fully fin­ished, with­out any com­pro­mises.”

Re­tail guru and con­sul­tant Ni­cholas Mel­lam­phy first brought Er­dem back to Canada at his for­mer boutique Hazel, circa 2008. The col­lec­tion fol­lowed Mel­lam­phy when he helmed the Room at Hud­son’s Bay where it be­came a firm favourite with the coun­try’s so­cialite and celebrity set.

Mel­lam­phy says Mo­rali­oglu’s work first caught his eye while the de­signer was still at Ry­er­son, but that he was blown away to see what his early col­lec­tions had evolved into when they were rein­tro­duced in Lon­don. “His work stood out for its orig­i­nal­ity, un­usual colour com­bi­na­tions and un­ex­pected prints, things like in­sects, not your ex­pected flo­rals. And it is a dif­fer­ent idea of beauty, flow­ing and fem­i­nine and I don’t dare say pretty, but rather so flat­ter­ing. It is a throw­back to a more el­e­gant way of dress­ing, the way the fab­ric flows on a wo­man’s body.”

Mo­rali­oglu joined his peers from Lon­don’s other ma­jor de­sign hub, Cen­tral Saint Martins — Mary Ka­trant­zou, Christo­pher Kane, Giles Dea­con, Rok­sanda Ilin­cic — as part of Lon­don’s rock star new wave of young de­sign tal­ent, break­ing onto the scene. This fash­ion pack is now en­ter­ing a magic point for de­sign­ers, the 10-year mark. That he had to go to Bri­tain to “make it” is not lost on Cana­dian fash­ion in­sid­ers such as Mel­lam­phy, who notes that this group was the ben­e­fi­ciary of new Bri­tish govern­ment in­vest­ment in the fash­ion de­sign sec­tor, a crit­i­cal kind of sup­port for fash­ion as an art and cul­tural form that is not found in Canada at any level of govern­ment.

“The other thing about Er­dem is that it looks good on so many dif­fer­ent types of women,” Mel­lam­phy adds. But only celebri­ties and so­cialites could af­ford the dresses, which run to the thou­sands of dol­lars. “There was pop cul­ture aware­ness of the brand from its celebrity fans. But the H&M project will take his ca­reer to the next level.”

H&M de­sign di­rec­tor Ann-Sofie Jo­hans­son calls Er­dem’s work “frag­ile and strong at the same time.” She says she loves how his col­lec­tions time-travel through dif­fer­ent eras, but emerge with an al­ways con­tem­po­rary edge. She also thinks Er­dem might be just the tonic we need right now: “For me, this col­lab­o­ra­tion is about pure beauty. It’s like beau­ti­fi­ca­tion for the trou­bled world that we live in. I think that right now, our eyes need to see some­thing that is beau­ti­ful, charm­ing and del­i­cate.”

And Cana­di­ans may just find bits of our­selves re­flected in the work. Mo­rali­oglu says the H&M col­lec­tion riffs on the stuff he and his fam­ily used to wear as a kid back in Canada, from his twin sis­ter Sara’s vin­tage tea dresses worn with a fleece over­top, to an old Nor­we­gian sweater he wore in high school. “Then I re­mem­bered how my mother would put our fa­ther’s tweed blazer over her shoul­ders when she would drive us to school, or the struc­tured hand­bags she car­ries in pho­tos of her from the ’60s.”

The best de­sign­ers are in­deed mock­ing­birds, pick­ing up threads of mem­o­ries and weav­ing them into some­thing en­tirely new and chal­leng­ing, yet at the same time some­how haunt­ingly fa­mil­iar.

“I re­mem­bered how my mother would put our fa­ther’s tweed blazer over her shoul­ders when she would drive us to school.” ER­DEM MO­RALI­OGLU DE­SIGNER

Look­book im­ages from the Er­dem x H&M col­lab­o­ra­tion. Women’s flo­ral blouses, $149.

H&M

GRANT POL­LARD/INVISION/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A model wears a cre­ation by de­signer Er­dem dur­ing the Spring/Sum­mer 2018 run­way show at Lon­don Fash­ion Week. His H&M col­lab­o­ra­tion of­fers far more af­ford­able out­fits.

Nor­we­gian-style sweater, $149, Er­dem x H&M.

Black flo­ral frill-col­lar blouse, $149, Er­dem x H&M.

Bur­gundy retro faux croc purse, $149, Er­dem x H&M.

Black flo­ral full skirt, $199, Er­dem x H&M.

Flo­ral scarf, $39.99, Er­dem x H&M.

Women’s blue jew­eled bow ear­rings, $49.99, Er­dem x H&M.

Bur­gundy gros­grain be­jew­eled brooch, $34.99, Er­dem x H&M.

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