Designer expat Erdem returns to launch collection at The Bay

Erdem for The Room at The Bay

How do you get an eminent fashion designer who just won Most Influential Womenswear Designer at the 2011 Global Fashion Awards to drop by Vancouver and have a chat? It helps if he’s Canadian. It also helps if he’s designed an exclusive capsule collection launching at The Room, the sleek new boutique in The Bay.

I sat down with Erdem Moralioglu—known by his first name alone—to talk about his design inspiration. I also wanted to probe his thoughts on Vancouver style, since this city was so recently panned as the third-worst dressed city in the world by MSN Travel. I knew this Canadian-born, London-based fashion visionary would have some worthwhile insight. After all, his graceful yet modern clothing has won plaudits for its combo of sharp tailoring with romanticism, and bold custom-designed silk prints. The Erdem look appeals to all women, from the prime minister’s wife to celebs like Keira and Gwyneth.

Erdem adjusted his chic librarian specs, sipped his Diet Coke and talked style. Here’s what he had to say:

Erdem Moralioglu by Boo George

Me: You grew up in Montreal and attended Ryerson, but you’ve lived in London for the last ten years. Do you think of yourself as Canadian?
Erdem: I definitely feel Canadian. I was brought up in Montreal.

Me: Tell me your thoughts on Vancouver fashion. Are we hopeless?  We must not be because here you are at The Bay.
Erdem: Vancouver fashion is amazing. It’s amazing to be in this iconic Canadian store. The Bay has put together a really strong mix of labels. I’ve got young Londoners hanging on either side of me in The Room. Christopher Kane’s collection is on the left and Mary Katrantzou is on my right.

Me: What inspires your designs?
Erdem: It can be anything. For this particular collection (Fall/Winter 2011 is hanging up behind us) I was really inspired by the movie Pollock and the idea of a 1950s woman wearing her husband’s canvasses with the messy ink splotches, the accident of it all. Spring/Summer 2012 was inspired by the novel Bonjour Tristesse. It’s about this stepdaughter who lives in the south of France and her relationship with her stepmom. I’d say the era is late 1960s. I loved the idea of her taking her stepmom’s fancy dresses and getting on the back of a moped and driving to the beach with her boyfriend for sundown, wearing lace gloves. I always think that each collection informs the next in that you try to undo what you’ve previously done, you try to contradict

Jessica Stam in Erdem for The Bay

Enter Jessica Stam, the Canadian supermodel who donned Erdem’s capsule collection for The Bay catalogue. She warmly greets the designer, then begins to look for something to wear for the launch party from Erdem’s collection available at The Room. She holds up a vibrant print dress.

Me: Tell me about how you come up with your custom- prints, like the one you chose for the capsule collection that you designed for The Room at The Bay.
Erdem: The dress Jessica is holding now (bursts of fuchsia, canary and cobalt are all tangled together) is a 1950s wallpaper print. Anything looks pretty on Jessica. The print we used for the capsule collection is a bright, multi-coloured, jungle orchid print.

Me: What was the first dress you designed?
Erdem: Oh gosh, it was a strapless, pale blue dress, probably in polyester, for my sister’s Barbie. Because it was a circle skirt, all I had to do was to sew around the edge. I was five.

Me: Does your sister wear your designs now?
Erdem: She does. She wears them all the time. She’s a lucky sister.

I think I’m lucky to roll out the Vancouver welcome wagon for this visiting style celeb.

Erdem’s nine-piece capsule collection of dresses, skirts, blouses and scarves is available exclusively in The Room at The Bay. His Fall/Winter 2011 collection is also in store. For more on the collections available in The Room at The Bay, check out Dana’s post here.

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