As Erdem took the stage last Friday I’m sure there were many in the
audience who believed this would be an interview
in which a shy designer was led by the established critic Colin McDowell.
In fact, what transpired couldn’t have been any further from this
imagined scenario. Erdem was dressed in a smart sweater/ blazer combination, paired
with jeans rolled at the ankle to reveal smart striped socks. His attire signified a man that was cool as a cucumber, which was in fact entirely the
case. Not once did he stall, mumble, say anything that seemed flippant
or without great consideration. Erdem was concise and delivered a
message of strength, much like that of the silhouette he provides for
women on the catwalk each season.
Of course it’s important to note that the interviewer, Colin McDowell,
and the interviewee, Erdem, have had a rich working relationship for
many years leading up to this interview. That, of course,
changes the dynamic of the situation. One could tell Erdem was completely comfortable in answering all of Colin’s questions but was not
afraid to object to his phrasing or criticise his choice of topics. In
particular, a moment when Mr McDowell brings up Anna Wintour and the Devil Wears Prada, Erdem is quick to respond in a critical manner and with a head shake, “Are you really bringing up
the Devil Wears Prada right now and here?”
Erdem is within his rights to defend Anna Wintour. She has in fact been a
huge supporter of Erdem and his brand over the past few years. Mr. McDowell
encourages him to talk further about their relationship, however Erdem stops the idea
dead in its tracks by simply stating “I think she is extraordinary. She
did so much for me. She is very generous with young British designers.”
Other women who have been instrumental in Erdem’s career include his twin
sister, who recently went into a store and asked where she could find
the Erdem section only to be told she was pronouncing the name
incorrectly. Funny, that. His mother has also heavily influenced Erdem. He spoke so
lovingly as he described his mother’s style. He shared the fact that she
didn’t wear much makeup but always has a bright lip on show. His closing words on his mother’s influence: “She was always very chic, very beautiful.”
However, when it came to asking Erdem about the women that inspire his collections each season, his answer was most unexpected. In fact, Erdem does not have a muse. While Erdem designs have been seen on two Prime Minister’s wives, the First Lady of the United States, Kate Middleton and more celebrities than we could ever list here, the ideal women for Erdem doesn’t exist on the pages of the Sunday Times. She does, however, exist in his mind and in the sketches he creates every season. You see, Erdem’s women is a part of a “narrative” that is on going and ever-evolving from season to season. Erdem tells us his collections are each like a “chapter from a book” and he feels privileged to be able to rewrite each chapter as each new season is being developed. This is a man that is clearly passionate about what he does for a living.
If there were ever any question about how passionate he is exactly, I do believe Erdem’s work schedule would straighten out any question marks. The designer, on average, spends six or seven days a week in his studio working. That being said, he also looks like one of the most relaxed individuals I have yet to meet in fashion. When prompted to speak about how he stays so relaxed in a world that seems to feed on anxiety, Erdem simply remarks, “I have had a partner for 10 years, I live next door to my studio and I work daily. I enjoy my personal life, but it’s personal.”
Over the course of an hour we learned so much about this talented individual. A lot was asked of him, from his personal life to future fragrance deals, which he seems very keen to pursue. There were even questions of couture, which he responded to, quite bravely, as something that can only exist in Paris. Yes, there were a lot of eyebrows raised at that remark.
At the end of the day, it seemed as if Erdem was happy to share and interact with his adoring audience. In fact, you truly were led to believe he almost didn’t feel as if his life was worthy of such scrutiny. When McDowell asked how he found being a celebrity, he immediately brushed off the question by simply replying that he didn’t see himself as being at all famous. Well, that’s either the truth or Erdem should have considered a career in acting as it was a very convincing response, and a most entertaining evening.
##Thank you to Net-a-Porter for inviting Fashion Foie Gras to attend An Evening with Erdem##