Five minutes with Erdem Moralioglu
Inspiration, fashion films, and a Canadian connection: Meet the world's most adorably down-to-earth designer.
Erdem Moralioglu inspires crushes within 10 seconds of meeting him. He’s lovely company, with a disarmingly sweet smile and a way of making you feel like you’re chatting with a close friend, not the recent winner of the £200,000 BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund, who dresses stars like Michelle Obama and Claudia Schiffer.
Born in Montreal, Moralioglu studied fashion at Ryerson University in Toronto, before attending the Royal College of Art in London. He interned at Vivienne Westwood, and worked for Diane von Furstenberg in New York, before launching his eponymous line in 2005. He’s known for his elegant use of prints—bold 3-D florals and delicate watercolour appliqués—which were worn by many of the stylish guests at the recent “God Save the Queen” event at The Room at the Bay.
ELLE sat down with Moralioglu at The Room at The Bay to talk fashion.
How did you fall in love with fashion?
“I was always drawing, pictures of my little girlfriends at school, doodling in the margins. When I was five, my parents took me to The Nutracker, and I came home and created a paper doll collection of every costume. When I was a little older, I started watching Jeanne Beker [on Fashion Television] and Tim Blanks [on Fashion File]. I remember being 10 and watching FT on a Sunday, and being absolutely enthralled.”
What did those fashion TV shows mean to you?
“For a kid from the suburbs, it was like this total fantasy, a total escape. It was Paris, New York, YSL, Meisel! All that colour and glamour. Fashion became my bread and butter, and I just ate it up.”
How does inspiration work for you?
“It depends. For my Ballets Russes-inspired collection, I was lucky enough to get access to the Victoria & Albert storage unit, and examine the actual theatre sets, and the costumes. It was amazing, and a very literal kind of research. Another collection was inspired by a trip to Japan. I think of each collection like it’s a chapter in a book—they’re one chapter in the story of who the Erdem girl is becoming.”
Do you still draw all the time?
“All the time! I draw [the Erdem girl] in profile, in watercolour, in pencil. I have an army of them marching throughout a sketchbook, something like 300 sketches per collection.”
What’s your favourite fashion film?
“I love Unzipped, of course, and I saw this amazing one quite recently—it was an MTV special with Christy Turlington from around 1994, and they followed her through all of those amazing, iconic collections—the Gaultier Haisidic collection, John Galliano’s Russian princess show. So fantastic.”