Erdem Moralioglu likes a man in a boatneck. He appreciates a slightly shortened blazer sleeve. And he loves the idea of the male twinset. We know this now because the designer—after 15 years in womenswear— is making his first proposal for a men’s wardrobe. “I think it was important to think of him as her brother,” Moralioglu said on a video call from London, continuing his tradition of speaking about his wearers as characters in the romantic narratives that frame his work. “He’s the brother or the friend that wears her clothes in his own way.”
Moralioglu and his twin sister were raised in the suburbs of Canada by a British mother, who would immerse herself and her children in English literature and film as a form of cultivated homesickness. She instilled in him a British gentlemanliness and a feminine sensibility, which materialized exquisitely in his first men’s collection. This wasn’t the “boyfriend counterpart” to his female customer—the way many designers will describe their menswear—but her companion: a like-minded male energy, a confidante, a masculine manifestation of herself.
Captured with certain melancholia on West Wittering Beach near Dungeness, the first Erdem men’s look to see the light of day was a beige trench coat crafted in tonal floral jacquard. Adapted from his recent women’s resort collection, the fabric looked like sturdy cotton twill but had all the sensitivity of the designer’s botanical dreams. It would be altmodisch to call it a balance between the masculine and the feminine. Rather, Moralioglu is about imbuing everything he makes with a certain soul; a memory that feels older and wiser than the garment itself.
He evoked classic sartorial dress codes in silhouettes cinched with cummerbunds, elevating the casual character of square and straight chinos, the fit of which he had spent ages getting just right. Slightly shrunken tailored jackets had a 1920s boyishness to them à la Brideshead Revisited, the 1981 screen version of which wasn’t on Moralioglu’s mood board but certainly part of his mother’s TV viewing when he was a teenager. “I always like the idea of a historical costume distorted through a 1970s lens,” he said, listing The Great Gatsby, The Damned, Barry Lyndon, and Cabaret. There were traces of them all in these clothes.