Erdem’s AW21 collection is a love letter to ballet

“It’s a love letter to dance, my absolute respect for it,” says Erdem Moralıoğlu, 43, of his AW21 collection and its accompanying film, due to be shown during London Fashion Week. Although no stranger to ballet, this is the first time that the Canadian-born, half-Turkish and half-British designer has made the highly technical dance form the focus of his latest show.

In 2017, Erdem was commissioned by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon to create costumes for his single-act ballet, Corybantic Games, premiered at the Royal Opera House and danced by The Royal Ballet in 2018. Fast forward to 2021, and it’s no surprise that the designer has ventured back into this world with his new collection, this time working with Edward Watson, principal dancer and coach at London’s Royal Ballet. “It was truly movement direction,” says Erdem. “It wasn’t ‘dance’.”

collection

The clothes themselves? They’re a juxtaposition of two worlds—casual mixed with formal attire, capturing the moment when a dancer is partially in costume and rehearsal clothes. Think watteau-back dresses, embellished duchess-satin gowns and opera coats paired with knitted headbands, ribbed leggings and flat ballerina-slipper platforms. Erdem, who has dressed the likes of Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton, wanted to celebrate the arc of a dancer’s career, as well as his obsessions with legendary ballet dancers Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev.