Erdem Moralioglu has been sincerely in love with a new woman or women from some historical moment. We know so much about the suggestive ways in which his creative mind organized itself. The 93 romance that took over his Cruise collection was with Deborah (or “Debo”), the late Duchess of Devonshire and former castle lord of Chatsworth. By the way, her girlhood moniker, which stuck with her for life, was embellished with pearls on a navy cashmere crewneck sweater.
The A-line swing coat and continued through a series of very extravagant draped, printed and jeweled evening looks. He designed an off-the-shoulder black velvet dress with bows on either side of the neckline, a direct reference to Cecil Beaton’s portrait of Deborah. In other words, Moralioglu was on his way, beckoning his customers into the holidays with a rich homage to the Duchess’s wildly eccentric style.
Her penchant for collecting insect brooches runs through her beetle, spider, and dragonfly jewelry pinned to ball gowns, casually draped over a ostentatious ladylike cashmere two-piece. Then there’s his depiction of the outdoors of the estate lady, famous for her rare breed of chickens and befriending local farmers, as she was with Lucian Freud, who painted her, among others same as people. Cue Erdem-ite revived his signature trench coat in beige front and scalloped tweed back, and a fitted Prince of Wales suit with a kilt.
TBD To be fair, Moralioglu is far from the first fashion designer, writer, biographer or artist to be captivated by Debo. An entire literary Mitfordania industry is built around the stories of the six distinct Mitford sisters. Debo, the youngest child, declared as a child that she would marry a duke when she grew up, and she did.
However, through a chain of relationships and circumstances (one of which was his friendship with Laura Burlington, an early boutique buyer of Bluebird store Erdem in the 2000s mid-2000s), the current Daughter-in-law of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire), he had permission from the family to study her wardrobe at the House Archives.
These photographs, taken by Campbell Addy, allude to Chatsworth’s black and white marble floors and behind-the-scenes dust sheets. Knowing Moralioglu’s penchant for deep historical research in museums, libraries and private collections, it’s reasonable to suspect that his pre-spring collection must have been just the beginning of his discoveries. Come to his September show, there will definitely be more on Debo.