Thursday, April 29, 2010

Erdem Moralioglu is a Nutcracker

A short timid man enters UCA Epsom’s Gallery in rolled up chinos, buttoned up check shirt and Cutler & Gross thick-rimmed specs. Wide-eyed and undoubtedly a bit intimidated by the eager fashion students staring down at him, he doesn’t let this affect his Canadian tinted voice. Reminiscent of a young Yves Saint Laurent, he captivates the room from the beginning.

Erderm Moralioglu, founder and head designer of Erdem, has had a hectic five years. Since his graduate collection at the end of a two year MA at the Royal College of Art in 2001, he has been pounced on by fashion buyers and editors alike, most recently Anna Wintour, who chose him for the Vogue Fashion Fund this year- something which he marks as a highlight of his budding career.

to a British mother and Turkish father, Erdem and his twin sister grew up in Canada with a very broad cultural background. He recalls his mother reading tales of the Nutcracker before bed and taking them to galleries and museums from a young age. His parents emigrated when they were in their early thirties and that affected the way he and his sister were brought up. He admits that they influence his work greatly, and “there was a great juxtaposition of cultures when I was growing up. We’d travel to Turkey one minute and be looking at the Towers of London the next”. He fondly remembers doodling women figures in the margins of copy books as a child, a silhouette that has rarely changed and remains the Erdem woman he designs for today.


Luckily his parents were very open about their children’s interests and let them study whatever they wanted. After graduating from Ryerson University in Toronto, Moralioglu attended RCA in London which provided an integral chapter in his fashion career. He occasionally lectures at the University as well as uses the vast library books on offer. “Sometimes I go and sit in the same seat I did when I was a student and burrow into a stack of design books”, and to the fashion followers surprise, no one seems to bother him. Not that he knows of anyway as he has “bad peripheral vision”. He speaks warmly of the college that propelled him into the limelight as he got to see some great people lecture there, people who still inspire him today such as the artist Wolfgang Tillmans (who is featured on the cover of this season's Fantastic Man).

Much like many fashion students today, Erdem completed a handful of internships in order to gain invaluable experience and insight into the fashion world. He was scouted for Diane Von Furstenburg and moved to New York to work in-house. He then went onto work at Vivienne Westwood where he was nestled away in the houses’ archive- something which excited him as he got to touch and study iconic Westwood garments- as well as make cups of coffee, a trait which all interns much possess.


Working at these great fashion houses, he always knew in the back of his mind that he wanted to start his own label, which was conceived in 2005. His intimate studio in Bethnal Green just keeps on growing, from two members of staff at the beginning (himself included) to the six right-hand-men/women he has on his team now. He would like to expand the studio if he can in the future, and he feels the diversity and mishmash of cultures in London really influence his designs unconsciously. The design process he describes is that of a complicated one. Known for his wonderful floral prints, he is a firm believer in digital print and the technology that is available to elevate his doodles in margins to iconic prints. Photoshop and other design programs help manipulate his prints, even if he does use it “badly”, and some end up coming together by accident and turn out to be strong focal points in his collections. He likes when he can trick the eye, making it look “as if it has been done by hand even if it is computer generated”.

Erdem received a lot of interest after his first collection in Spring 2005- Julie Gilhart of Barney’s in New York being one of them. Since then, demand for his garments have grown tenfold and he is now stocked in 24 different countries with 54 stores, and his most recent and exciting store added to the list is Colette in Paris. “I wanted to do something really special for the Colette window and I tried to think of something really French. So we had little Daxon dogs in floral prints. I since found out that the Daxon is actually a German dog, but the German stores were happy about the display anyway!”

that is obviously when looking back on Erdem’s previous collections is that he always explores the same things and ideas, but slightly tweaking them in order to make them fresh and new. He believes he has progressed since university, but that he still has the same aesthetic he began designing with. By mixing colours awkwardly together to create odd yet beautiful designs in structural shapes, Erdem has created stunning pieces that have been the talk of many fashion weeks. One of his favourite pieces was a cashmere embroidered poncho from A/W10 that was sold to a boutique in Paris, “so keep an eye out for a Parisian woman wearing a cashmere poncho, you’ll know that it’s my design!” His runway shows match the outfits excellently, and his most recent showing at Somerset house was a definite highpoint in his fashion week experience where he had the sounds of Edith Piat billowing from the end of the runway by a live piano, accompanying the Russian/French theme of his collection.

So what’s next for Erdem? Diffusion lines and side tracking into menswear isn’t on his radar just yet, nor is a high street collaboration. He has worked with shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood on his recent collections, and has teamed up with Smythson the stationary company, to create exquisite diaries with signature Erdem print. But perhaps a stint at costume designing could be on the horizon. “I would love to do the costumes for the Royal Ballet”- the Nutcracker would certainly be a great place to start. He ends with a tip for promising designers- to do a long internship at a fashion house in order to see the magic that happens during fashion week, both the lead up and the post-show mayhem. No doubt there will be hundreds of letters and C.V’s fluttering towards Shoreditch this summer.

(Interview took place on Wednesday 28th Arpil 2010 at UCA Epsom)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Alternate Fashion Week 2010

Last week, Spitalfields was home to the new crop of designers making a name for themselves, both home grown and foreign, creating a buzz around the usually mellow atmosphere of the marketplace. The designers were hand picked by the Alternate Arts council having received a lo of aspiring fashion designers portfolios. On each of the days between 19-23 April, fourteen different designers were showcased.

On Friday, the last day of the fashion week, an eclectic mix of designers set their models down the runway in a mishmash of pieces. There was fairytale inspired collections with Little Red Riding Hood skipping down the runway in a red velvet hooded cape, and a fierce fox trailing behind her in a crisp black tailcoat.

Other designers had sportswear on their mood-boards with a new take on street wear. Stuffed vintage tracksuit tops and fitted dress with cowl necks streamed down the runway on the women while the men revealed chizzled bodies in cut away zip up tops and ruched jumpers. Victorian inspired garments were also on show along with tribal head gear and floaty chiffon numbers.

Here are some of the best pieces that were on show.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Peter Pan Collar at its finest

Urban Outfitters Pin & Needles Frock

Fashion Prevails at Coachella

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival kicked off the summer this week and it has been at the forefront of my wish list for a number of years now. The line-up is always outstanding, with acts old and new, eclectic and common sharing the multitude of stages and tents that are scattered across the Californian dessert. Acts on the bill this year made every music lovers knees quiver and the fashion lovers eyes widen at the thought of both seeing groudbreaking performances by bands such as LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend, Grizzly Bear, Fever Ray, Pavement, Julian Casablancas (the list is endless) and mingling with the star studded crowd dazzling in outrageous festival gear.

Coachella is blessed with the almost certainty of good weather, an advantage they have over some of their European contemporaries. It is an art form to be able to infuse style into the festival period as practicality must be taken into account. At Woodstock they took advantage of the muddy fields and turned what was initially a disaster for the festival into body art. This hippie aesthetic was motivated by the freedom music possessed, thus creating a freedom of fashion allowing people to wear what they wished in order to express themselves. There were no labels, just style, and that mantra is still witnessed today. Hippie chic infected fashion so much that it still permeates the catwalks today, and come festival season people imitate their favourite style icons; from Joplin to Hendrix, Karen O to Pete Doherty and everyone in between.

The trick is to partake in the festival spirit by being comfortable and not too fashion conscious, but still keep an element of your regular style as not to feel completely out of your own skin come day two. By mixing 501’s and blouses, the Woodstock crowd effortlessly, and unconsciously, paved way for the festival uniform of today. Denim shorts are a must, as seen on this music lover. Janis Joplin was lucky to have had Vivienne Westwood design for her when she mounted the stage at Woodstock, and many artists such as Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who has her good friend Christian Joy design her outrageous and colourful get-ups, and Blondie don designer gear on stage.

At this years festival there was an array of new fashion icons amongst the musicans performing. Personal favourite of mine who has been featured on this blog before was Victoria Legrand of dreamy pop duo Beach House. On trend with black leather shorts, Victoria's locks cascaded over a peach top and flashed her brown satchel to the street style hunters. Zooey Deschanel, the 'she' in country inspired two piece She& Him donned a baby blue number on stage which made her icey blue eyes pop and no doubt had the crowd at her disposal. Her lovely and innocent personality would never take advantage of this however. Florence Welsh of Florence and the Machine is making a name for herself in the fashion stakes, and this flowing cream ensemble with gold shorts from her performance set off her fiery red mane beautifully. Other celebrities who were attending the festival included model Agyness Deyn sporting a shaved head, Lindsay Lohan, Alexa Chung, Whitney Port and Kate Bosworth (who looked effortlessly cool in a blue tie dye jersey dress that will be on everyone shopping list this summer).

And it wasn't just the women who were at the forefront of the fashion parade at Coachella this year. Julian Casablancas performed in his usual leather ensemble, but this time embellishments covered his battered leather jacket and he teamed it with a white and navy stripped t-shirt. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem banged out their new album This is Happening in a white two-piece suit with white t-shirt; a look that suited the overwhelming heat of the festival.

One thing that has consistently been at the forefront of festival fashion is accessories. Anything goes at festivals and be either as subtle or as outrageous as you like. Headbands and hats were on show at Coachella, an orange floppy one blocking the sun excellently on one festival goer. They hide greasy hair, necklaces and scarves conceal the curry-stained dress, gloves cover un-manicured nails, and coloured leggings or tights can distract anyone from your hangover state. The key is to derive inspiration from past icons, and indeed the icons of today such as Chloe Sevigny who always looks effortlessly cool at festivals, and last year at Coachella teamed socks with sandals and make it look cool for the first time ever.

The volcanic ash that is continuing to wreak havoc on European airspace prevented acts such the Cribs, Bad Lieutenant, Delphic, Talvin Singh, Gary Numan and Frightened Rabbit and the Chicago brass group Hypnotic Brass Ensembl from performing. This didn't dampen the festival goers spirits, however it has prevented some of the acts from continuing on their European tours leaving fans across the Atlantic disappointed.

Coachella has set the a high standard for festival fashion, and it will be interesting to see if the rest of the summer festie's can match up to the trendsetter. The next big festival scheduled is Primaverasound in Barcelona and with similar heat conditions to California, is sure to produce some fashion favourites and new looks to guide the rest of us through the summer. Here's a few that can get your thinking caps on...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Marling and Me

On stage last night at The Academy, Dublin, stood a twenty year old timid woman with hair scraped back into a neat bun, guarded by her guitar.

Laura Marling is known for her shyness and at times awkward persona during performances and last night wasn't too different, but perhaps a little less cringey. Opening with her raging ballad and new single 'Devil's Spoke', the crowd soon gave her the confidence to take part in a bit of on stage banter. She continued on with the vulnerable 'Rambling Man', another new track off her latest album, I Speak Because I Can. With an onslaught of guitars tuned to perfection being handed to her after every song she and her band gelled together beautifully as they provided percussion, piano, and cello accompaniments to her setlist.

The band then disappeared and left a lonesome Laura to tackle the rest of the folk-inspired set with favourites such as 'My Manic and I', 'Ghosts' and the mellow 'Goodbye England'. Before attempting to cover Neil Young's classic 'Needle and the Damage Done', she recounted her first few gigs where she played the song as homage to her father her taught her. She added that her mother used to tell people that she wrote the song herself, and as an 18 year singing about heroin, which saw a twinkle in her eye (her parents were actually present at the gig). She executed it perfectly, adding her own twists and natural flare to the song which showed range to her somewhat typecasted voice as the 'female Bob Dylan'.

The gig built up emphatically much like her songs themselves, and then trailed off slowly with 'Alas I Cannot Swim' echoing around the sold out venue filled with adoring fans. She has certainly proved herself as a live performer however much she finds the whole act nerve wracking.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Coke Becomes a Fashion Accessory

Karl Lagerfeld famously credited Diet Coke for his outstanding weightloss back in 2001 along with the diet of steemed vegetables and horse meat. In somewhat of a homage to Coca-Cola, Karl has teamed up with the giant conglomorate to create limited edition drink, Coca-Cola Light, and with it, glass bottles with his recognisable silhouette printed onto it. His black suit, point white collar and slicked back maine stand against the silver bottle with the classic font of Coca Cola Light scrawled accross it. His signature is also etched onto the bottle which will be sold at Colette and Galeries Lafayette in Paris for a hefty sum no doubt. The bottle will come encased in a box with a matching bottle opener. Karl has also shot adverts for the bottle, featuring Coco Rocha and Baptiste Giacobini. Lagerfled follows in the footsteps of other limited edition Coca Cola bottles such as the caricature printed images of Sex and the City stars for the film's promotion in 2008. Drinking Coke never seemed so chic!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

TWINKRANES and their Spektrum Snakes

TwinKranes have been burgeoning on the Dublin music scene for a number of years and with the release of their debut album, SpektrumTheatreSnakes on the Mancunian label Twisted Nerve, they have finally been praised for their hard work and their popularity just keeps on growing.

Sitting in a friends’ house in London listening to a few records before dinner, a sound echoed around the room that brought back memories of a long lost favourite band of mine. Who knew that a lad from Manchester would rekindle my love for the psycheldelic trio, TwinKranes. Suddenly, their name was everywhere; on various music websites and blogs, being hailed by NME as an ‘unhinged mix of speeded-up krautrock rhythms, dirty drones and wonky synthesisers, which is at once weird and danceable and very pop’, a description which singer and drummer Anto (or Blonde Fox as he is sometimes referred to) confirms. “Yeah I think they hit the nail on the head with that one. I especially liked the Britney Spears reference”. To see ones band being praised in such high profile magazines must’ve been some experience. “It was great to see the band featured in respected publications like NME and Mojo, magazines you’ve grown up with and thankfully they had only good things to say. It’s great for the profile of the band and it can really make people sit up and take notice”. And people have certainly started to take notice.

They seem to have found their niche with the krautrock inspired album, a mishmash of influences and progressive pop sounds that set them apart from the indie-riddled charts. Anto explains that it was a long process over the years of playing live and recording that pointed them in this direction. “We’ve learnt what works and what doesn’t. It’s about skimming off the bad stuff and exploring the avenues that appeal to us as a group”. It seems there was a gap in the market for a band such as TwinKranes, and it was this spaced out sound that led Andy Votel of Twisted Nerve to Kennedy’s of Westland Row and suddenly the witchhunt for a record deal was over. The Manchester music scene always appealed to Anto as he grew up listening to bands such as Happy Mondays and to be apart of the Factory Records influenced city of lights has just given the band more drive to succeed.

Not that they haven’t already had success however. The band has supported numerous amounts of well established bands, most notably music veteran Silver Apples. Anto said that the support slot was great and that “it was an honour to grace the stage with him. He’s a true innovator and it’s amazing how he is still travelling the world playing his music and giving spring chickens across the globe a run for their money”. TK have also had their fair share of headline gigs in all the usual haunts in Dublin as well as a couple of festival slots at LLAMA in Devon, Primavera Sound in Barcelona and Electric Picnic in 2008; the latter being Anto’s favourite since TwinKranes’ conception. “It was amazing to feature with so many amazing bands and the partying was great fun. Hopefully we’ll get on the bill again this year”. With the likes of Fever Ray, Caribou, The National, LCD Soundsystem and Massive Attack playing at the festival, they would certainly stand their ground amongst these confirmed acts.

The band blossomed from a shared love of the same music and the three friends wanted to see where this would take them and while they were at it, “throw a bit of colour into the proceedings”, as Anto aptly puts it. The obscure name arose from the growing Dublin skyline and wherever they each seemed to move, two cranes would appear at the next abode. And to match their unusual band name, monikers of the same degree were born- although they insist that these are for comical reasons and only the guitarist Rooster, whose surname is Rooney, is actually used. Auburn Spinner was derived from Ray’s luscious locks (which he has now since cut off) and his DJ background. He mans the synthesisers and soundscapes that cry out on songs such as ‘High Tek Train Wreck’, ‘The Charmer’ and old favourite ‘Being Kong’. Anto himself provides the hypnotising beats on drums and harrowing vocals, something which requires a lot of skill and concentration as well as stamina. “The funny thing is that you tend to make less drumming mistakes as you don’t have time to think about what you’re playing. There isn’t much room for posing either.”

So what’s next for TwinKranes? The band are studio bound at present to hopefully get an EP release this summer to follow up the widely acclaimed album. This new material will be debuted at a couple of summer gigs which will surely be met by more media and fan interest. On the trailer and soundtrack to psychedelic teen movie Cherrybomb starring Rupert Grint and Robert Sheehan, and a possible a slot at EP at the end of the summer, TwinKranes are set for musical glory and definitely not to be missed live.