Words by Carolina Sandeman

Erdem’s fall 21 collection takes us on a trip to the ballet. In this case, we’re in the wings, watching as the collection dances by on the stage. Having first been captured by ballet in his 2018 collaboration with The Royal Ballet Erdem revisits it once more for this upcoming winter.

Taking inspiration for the collection’s spirit from Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev’s tenure dancing as partners, it delves into the contrasts of performance and rest, age and expectation and formal costume and informal clothing. 

The collection mixes traditional ballet rehearsal clothing, underpinnings and performance costumes, styled as if waiting to be called on stage. The rigorous femininity of ballet costumes and pointe shoes juxtapose the comfortable ribbed leggings and long wool gloves and the glamorous overcoats and blankets. 

Oversized jewelled adornments directly reference the work of Frederik Ashton and are in such proportions to be seen all the way from the back of the venue; these embellish organza dresses with sequin feathers and duchess gowns with extra-large crystals in pink and red. The use of feathers is also found in other motifs throughout the collections and the quintessential reference of ballet, Swan Lake, is given a nod to through the ostrich feather headbands. 

The theatricality of the collection is heightened further by large mikado dresses that feature water prints, reminiscent of distorted stage projections. Cinched in tailored suits and coats, open-cut dresses, styled to seem pulled over other garments or falling off, opera coats and voluminous pleated skirts confer a powerful glamour to the collection. 

Exploring every depth of the ballet world and its significant references, Erdem manages to create a rich collection filled with details, substance and ambience to the presentation.