Renowned for his fluency in womenswear with prints, textiles and delicate craftsmanship filled with historical references and personal narratives of his Turkish and English heritage, designer Erdem Moralioğlu’s masterpieces have been seen patronising many red carpets the last few years on dainty celebrities such as Felicity Jones, Gillian Anderson, Lily Collins, Nicole Kidman, Claire Foy and Rosamund Pike.
This year, Erdem joins the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Maison Margiela, Isabel Marant and Alexander Wang on the ever-growing list of fashion collaborators with H&M. The year’s collaborative collection will be available at selected stores worldwide and online from November 2 onwards, in which Moralioğlu will reveal his first-ever menswear range alongside the immaculate designs for the womenswear.
We speak to the Erdem director and founder, and H&M creative advisor Ann-Sofie Johansson on the coming together of the collaboration, and the anticipation of presenting the collection to the public as if in a neatly wrapped packaging with a perfect bow, in the form of a special visual film directed by Baz Luhrmann, starring upcoming actors Tom Rhys Harries, Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Ruby Dagnall, joined by acclaimed actress Harriet Walter, as well as supermodels Saskia de Brauw, Imaan Hammam, Grace Hartzel, Fernando Cabral, Neels Visser and Tony Ward, and a new specially composed track by Years & Years that captures the positivism, friendship and love seen in the four-minute film.
What is it about Erdem that H&M decided to slot the brand in for the year’s designer collaboration collection?
ASJ: I had the opportunity to meet him when he was member of the jury at the H&M Design Award a couple of years ago, but we have been great admirers of Erdem’s beautiful work, and we have had our eyes on him since the start of his own successful company. The timing felt right for a collaboration with a British designer well known for his romantic and feminine style after the sassy Balmain and street-smart Kenzo in the previous years. At the same time, it is also exciting that H&M fans who might not know who Erdem is will be able to familiarise with his amazing work through this collaboration.
EM: It was such a simple process. They contacted us, and straight away we felt it would be such a wonderful opportunity to share what we do with so many people around the world. It was also extraordinary to be offered the chance to design menswear for the very first time.
How do you think Erdem’s distinctive style brings to the table of the H&M brand as a whole?
ASJ: I believe that this collaboration will bring in something new to H&M, and something unexpected to our customers. At the end of the day, we want to show that both Erdem’s world and H&M’s world are not as distant as some people might think; the key aspect here is how we can bring Erdem’s notable floral style to our customers, especially to our male customers, as it was Erdem’s first time designing menswear. I can tell you now that the result couldn’t be less amazing!
What can the Erdem and H&M fans expect from this collaborative collection?
EM: This collection is very much about my own personal narratives. It was so amazing to look back at all these memories when we were designing Erdem x H&M… The tailored blazer and pants, which are my favourite pieces in the collection, are inspired by a photo of my father from the ‘60s. The sweater is a take on the Norwegian sweater I used to wear to school, whereas the fleeces are a play on the utilitarian clothing we all wore to keep warm in the Canadian winter.
ASJ: Rich fabrics, lovely embellishments and vivid florals are all part of Erdem´s signature style, and these details will impregnate the collection for H&M. Our fans can expect a very versatile collection that you can easily dress it up or dress it down depending on the different occasions presented. There will be a tight, well-edited collection built around favourites from the male wardrobe, which you can easily see Erdem himself in every piece of the men’s collection: the tweed suit and white shirt, alongside sportier garments are some of his favourite pieces that he wears every day.
What are the similarities and differences in terms of the creative and production processes between the Erdem x H&M collection and the Erdem catwalk collections?
EM: The biggest difference, I’d have to say, is the narrative. For my catwalk collections, I’d usually have one overarching story, but with Erdem x H&M, there are many different narratives coming together, making the collection feel much looser. To me, this is as much of an Erdem collection as my catwalk shows, and there is as much attention to detail as there is in everything I design—from the shapes and silhouettes to the materials, the cuts and finishes.
What are the challenges for you in putting together a menswear collection, as your portfolio has always been on the womenswear collection?
EM: It was such a joy designing the men’s collection for Erdem x H&M. It’s such a different process for me, because it was the first time that I could think about what I wear myself during the design process (laughs). It was great to be given the opportunity to try out menswear with this special collection, rather than launch it on my own. I’m excited to see how men will respond to it around the world, and how they will wear it in their own way, then we’ll decide if we will do more men’s collections.
Of all the film directors out there, how did the decision come about in working with Baz Luhrmann for the campaign video?
ASJ: We believe that Baz Luhrman is the perfect choice because of his unique storytelling skills. I would say Baz that shares an amazing passion for narratives, as Erdem does with his fashion creations—that is why we believe they are the perfect match for the communication pieces for this collaboration. The lovely campaign that Baz has created for this special occasion has managed to bring Erdem’s fashion and essence alive in a surprising way.