Harper's Bazaar March 2016 - Page 275

In the lives of most young designers, opening an independent flagship store with no support from sponsors or investors is a dream, let alone having a store in one of the most high-end areas in one of the most expensive cities in the world. But for London-based Canadian-Turkish designer Erdem Moralioglu, that dream came true a few months ago in London’s posh Mayfair, marking the tenth anniversary of his eponymous label. “Erdem has established a successful business, never compromising his vision or independence to create a brand that is equally commercial and creative,” says Sebastian Manes, buying and merchandising director at Selfridges, London. Moralioglu’s signature is a feminine yet modern take on womenswear, and he has been creating sartorial fairy tales for women like Michelle Obama, Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, and Kate Middleton since 2005. And his own story is nothing short of a fairy tale. Born and raised in Montreal, he grew up watching French couture shows andTim Blanks on Channel Five, while his mother shared her love of Impressionism and Manet with him and his twin sister, Sara. The female influences in his childhood got him “preoccupied with how women looked”. Due to the cultural mix his parents were, he also admits to feeling a sort of rootlessness. “My mother was from Birmingham while my father was Turkish. And my sister and I were born in Montreal. I always grew up with a sense of displacement. My mother was always homesick and so was my father, and I grew up as if I didn’t have any roots,” he confesses. This disparity inspired him to move away and find his own. After a short stint as an intern at Vivienne Westwood, the designer won the Cherening Scholarship to for an MA at London’s Royal College of Art in 2000, where he met his long-term partner, Philip Joseph. Like many young artists in London, he struggled to find the means to establish himself, and only in 2005 did he debut his first collection at London Fashion Week’s Fashion Fringe.The following season, he sold his entire range to Barneys NewYork. In 2009, then British prime minister’s wife, Sarah Brown, was spotted in one of Moralioglu’s popular pieces, as were a few other women politicians.This was a major turning point in his life, along with his Fall 2010 collection, which showcased his signature printed dresses in lace and silk and founded his skills as a master pattern-cutter. Around this time, his collaborations with eyewear brands such as Cutler and Gross and women’s footwear designer Nicholas Kirkwood also brought him steady fame. He has since won numerous grants and prizes, including the British Fashion Council’s Fashion Forward fund and Fashion Enterprise award.These were of pivotal significance in supporting him financially. But his self-made fashion empire can also be credited to his passion for creating something beautiful for women, and his ability to take something from concept to creation.“My ideas become tangible when I design something and fit it, and understand how a woman feels in it. I love it when something goes from just an idea to reality.” ➤ 275