Tag Archives: Royal College of Art

In Conversation: Colin McDowell Chats With Erdem

Last night I was honoured to attend the last leg of the hugely successful Fashion Fringe road show, where the lovely Colin McDowell chatted with his former student Erdem Moralioğlu at the Royal College of Arts in front of around 200 people. The roadshow has been geared at students and prospective Fashion Fringe entrants, so I was fortunate that the lovely Fashion Fringe team didn’t mind a blogger crashing the lecture theatre as I found the hour-long talk truly inspiring and entertaining, the banter between Colin and Erdem was really charming.

Erdem was lovely and relaxed chatting about his twin sister, who he “respects and admires”, his first flutters into fashion in Canada, the prospect of active service in Turkey as his father is Turkish, the exciting news that he has just bought a house with his partner of nine years who he met while at the Royal College of Arts, how he deals with press, as well as giving an insight into the workings of his fashion label and his career so far. It really did seem that there was no subject off limit.

I have followed Erdem’s career for a number of years, like most women I am consumed with how gorgeous and elegant his designs are, they truly are divine, each gown just has femininity and gracefulness that I don’t think is rivalled by anyone else. It has been a little from the distance until last night, I haven’t been to one of Erdem’s shows, I haven’t seen his designs at a press day, and sadly I have no gorgeous floral prints in my wardrobe, but hearing his lovely story gives me hope that one day all those things will happen.

If you, like me was hoping that one day there would be a H&M, Debenhams or another high street collaboration in the works – think again. “It’s never been the right moment,” said Erdem. “If it works for some people, then that’s wonderful – but it depends on where you’re at. For me, it’s really important to concentrate on your collection and your own work. Once you start looking at versions of your work, it can get a bit dangerous. One can do it really well and in an interesting way though.”

For budding fashion designer’s Erdem’s is a little unconventional, he actually only did one internship, which lasted three months at Vivienne Westwood, which he said “was wonderful” as he was left in the archives with all the lovely corsets. But he did add that the experience did give him “direction”. From the RCA Erdem relocated to New York to be a “design assistant, assistant, assistant to Diana von Furstenberg”, a paid gig that he only did for a year, “I adored New York, but I had no intentions on staying. But it was there that I realised that I had to start my own label.”

It was shortly after coming back to London that he entered Fashion Fringe, which he eventually went onto win, and it was sweet hearing how proud he was of the collection. He also recounted his favourite show the year after winning FF, “The show was at the V&A it was crazy as the catwalk started in the gift shop, and hair and make-up was by the Chinese vases. But I was standing on my own two feet for the first time.”

Since then success hasn’t been handed to him, it took American retailer Barneys to take notice and buy up his collection that really made UK stockists come on board, and now his line is sold around the world in every notable high-end department store from Harrods to Liberty’s. But he did add that “it was hard for the first couple of seasons”, noting that people just remember that Michelle Obama wore his skirt five years ago!!!

As well as discussing his fashion inspirations, his background, and his love of the RCA, he also gave insight into his business. The most amazing revelation was that the majority of the manufacturing is done right here in Britain and how he totally recommends it. I know that is a little geeky of me but I do love hearing that designers like to keep things local.

Everything from the evening has made me want to know more about Erdem – such a great idea from Fashion Fringe to hold these intimate events that I hope that they do a lot more.

**Thanks to Fashion Fringe for inviting me, and I am so sorry for the poor pics – I was so consumed with the conversation I kind of forgot to take any pictures except these on my Blackberry**

RCA Secret: Anyone Else A Postcard Addict?

I think I have mentioned before that I have many addictions *all harmless I promise*, Barbie’s are a given, but I also collect postcards whether it is the postcard book from an exhibition I have just seen, or those free ones you sometimes see at the cinema, I have tons of them. So you can imagine how excited I was, and also horrified in myself for not knowing this sooner, that every year the RCA holds a Secret postcard exhibition and sale.

I can’t surely be the only one who hasn’t heard of it can I? I am super excited about the prospect of picking up my postcard-sized artwork in November. Anyone else wondering what the secret bit is? Yeah I was thinking the same thing well the beauty of this exhibition and sale is that each postcard is donated by professional artists, designers and illustrators, plus up-and-coming students from the Royal College of Art, and you don’t know the identity of the artist until you make your purchase when you finally see the back where they’ve signed it.

How cool is that, perfect for art-novices like me where I just choose pieces I love rather than for the collectible value. I can’t wait to check out the event as last year included handmade postcards by the likes of fashion designers Stella McCartney Paul Smith and Manolo Blahnik, as well as Yoko Ono, Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry, David Bailey, Jake Chapman, and animator Nick Park.

Each postcard costs £45 and all money raised goes to the RCA Fine Art Student Award Fund, which helps emerging artists. So you get a one-of-a-kind piece of art and you get to help future artists. I love this concept so much.

When does this all take place you ask, well you can view the RCA Secret 2011 postcards from November 18 at the RCA in London, and then for one-day only on November 26 you can buy your piece of art on a first come, first served basis. Also be prepared to queue, as when they say that they do a raffle to win a position in the first fifty places you know it is busy!!

I can’t wait to see what beauties they have – anyone been before?

Viewing days: November 18-26, 11am – 6pm daily (late night opening until 9pm on November 24); Sale Day: November 26, 8am – 6pm – at the Royal College of Art, London