Erdem Moralioglu’s spring/summer 2024 collection was dedicated to the late Deborah “Debo” Cavendish, with textiles pulled from her collection at Chatsworth House. Below, see Vogue fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen’s key takeaways from the show.
The show was devoted to Debo of Devonshire
The ducal family of Devonshire came out in force for the Erdem show at the British Museum. The collection was dedicated to the late Duchess of Devonshire, Deborah “Debo” Cavendish, the grandmother of the current Earl of Burlington. A friend of the family, Erdem Moralioglu had been given access to the archives of Chatsworth House – the family seat in Derbyshire – and trusted with the task of giving Debo’s antique furnishing textiles new life in the form of clothes. “When curtains came down in Chatsworth, they were often turned into upholstery. She believed in the continuity of using them,” he explained. And so, Moralioglu presented his very extra take on upcycling.
The collection was made from real textiles from Chatsworth
The show opened with a series of coats created from Debo’s (actual) old textiles and spliced – via a collaboration with Barbour – with the waxed cotton jackets she wore in the park at Chatsworth. “I loved taking the idea of the 1940s’s opera coat and these big couture volumes but making a piece of outerwear. She loved quilted skirts, and we pieced them together using antique fabrics from Chatsworth,” Moralioglu explained. The look had all the soulfulness of lived-in clothes, invigorated by wild cutting as if he’d audaciously hacked through the antique cloth to release all its history. It transpired in the fabrics that followed, each imbued with the feeling of Chatsworth’s interiors and one more intricately woven than the other.
Debo was quite the character
The youngest of the five Mitford sisters, Debo wasn’t just the queen of the social scene in the 1930s but an accomplished writer who cared deeply about the documentation and preservation of Chatsworth House and all its splendours. On the show’s soundtrack, she could be heard explaining – with the most amazing old-world diction – how terribly privileged she knew she was to live there. Her soundbites were mixed with fragments of Always on My Mind. A layered character, Debo was also a passionate Elvis Presley fan and collector of memorabilia. “The more I found out about her, the more I fell in love with her,” Moralioglu said after the show, and you could see why.
The shoes were inspired by chickens
For all its historical significance and mind-blowing sense of resourcefulness, there was a lot of humour to the Erdem collection as well. Debo’s love of Elvis Presley was interpreted in starburst embroideries and garments with whispers of rhinestone cowboys, and her passion for chicken breeding was celebrated in plumage-like textures and in the magnified bows of kitten heels that made the models walk with the bobbing of a feathered-footed chicken. It was an inspired, emotional and quite spectacular show, which only begged one question: How will Moralioglu manufacture a collection created from antique textiles? “We need to figure it out! No, there’s a plan… I think,” he smiled. “I hope.”
Debo’s great granddaughter embroidered some of the looks
Metallic dresses were created to evoke the faded blue tapestries of Debo’s drawing room, which eventually turned silver. Other dresses re-evoked through bright acid silkscreen prints the hunting tapestries of Chatsworth, which now belong to the V&A. Poignantly, the dresses that closed were show were crafted from curtains which had belonged to Debo and had been embroidered by her great-granddaughter Cecily Lasnet, the daughter of the late model Stella Tennant. When the Pet Shop Boys’s cover of Always on My Mind – sung by another great Tennant, presumably not a relation – came on for the finale, you couldn’t help but think of Stella, too.
Originally published on vogue.co.uk