Lula: Hello Erdem, how are you today – what are you up to?
Erdem: I am well, it’s a rainy London day, and I am working away in the studio, in east London.
Lula: Are you working on your AW09 collection right now?
Erdem: It is coming along well; it is a very organic process. I am looking at these wonderful illustrations by Kay Neilson for inspiration. I am also staring at our new cocktail dress shape.
Lula: You're living and working in London but you grew up in Canada – where do you consider home?
Erdem: London is home, I have no family in Canada…I love where I live in London, and when I go far away I am always so relieved to come back. I moved here when I started studying fashion design at the Royal College of Art. It is a very inspiring place to be, London… I love the V&A and the Tate, it amazed me when I first got here how large London is… actually, I still get lost here all the time. It’s nice.
Lula: Where in Canada did you grow u, and what was your childhood like?
Erdem: I grew up in Montreal on the west island, right near a big lake. It was idyllic. I was obsessed with drawing and Lego… I would do this really weird thing as a child, where I couldn’t play if there was anyone in the room with me. I had to be alone – which was difficult as I have a twin sister, who is lovely. But, crayons and Lego were my favourite things. I also quite liked my sister’s dolls; I made my first dress for one of them when I was 7, a very basic dress with a circle skirt in powder blue. Very chic.
Lula: With beginnings dressing dolls, what inspires your poetic designs today – they always seem to evoke the romantic past…
Erdem: My inspiration generally comes from an idea, a photo, or a film – and I just start sketching. Inspiration always comes to me in very abstract and quite organic ways until I can actually draw the shapes and silhouettes of the pieces, then it starts to become real.
Lula: Have you always drawn and sketched clothing?
Erdem: I started drawing when I was very young. I was always sketching and daydreaming, and in a way the process I work has not changed very much. From a very young age I was obsessed with all things old and feminine, things like Merchant ivory films, the impressionists and ballet. My parents had no idea what to do with me…
Lula: Your prints are always beautiful; you had distorted florals in AW08 and then for SS09 washed out toile de Jouy…
Erdem: Yes, I love to employ prints in my designs. I design them on a computer… I am fascinated with the idea of making something digital look handmade. I love the idea that these prints belong to my label, that they are unique. The toile de jouys were inspired by the idea of leaving really beautiful furniture outside and letting it fade and get destroyed. It’s funny, I am always trying to make my clothing look a little flawed – I don’t like the designs to be too pretty, I want to muck them up a little.
Lula: Who are you creating for – do you have an idea in mind of who the Erdem girl is?
Erdem: That is a good question. I think she a little like you.
Lula: Oh nice! For Lula girls everywhere. So, how would you describe your aesthetic?
Erdem: I would describe our clothes as accidental and optimistic, hopeful and chic. Do they reflect my personality? That depends on my mood.
Lula: Do you have any fashion design heroes that have inspired your designs and career?
Erdem: I love Charles James, Ossie Clark and of course Yves Saint Laurent. Monsieur Saint Laurent is categorically the best, he is truly my hero.
Lula: As a teenager what musicians or artists were you obsessed with, and have these influences carried through to your adult life?
Erdem: I was a very moody teenager. I was into political debating and was not particularly popular. I loved Hole, Dépêche Mode and Joy Division… I was quite serious, but I blame that on extensive orthodontic treatments. You would have been pretty serious too if you had headgear!
Lula: Teenage years can be cruel! Aside from the headgear, do you remember any accessories or clothing that you particularly loved?
Erdem: When I was younger, in Grade one, I went through a royal blue phase. Everything had to be royal blue. I was obsessed. Head to toe. It was received much better than the yellow phase, which followed shortly after.
Lula: If you weren't a fashion designer, what would you be doing and where?
Erdem: I would be a set and costume designer at the Royal Ballet or at the Metropolitan Museum.
Lula: How do you spend your spare time… what things do you love to do?
Erdem: I hang out with my friends who all live near London fields. I love going to the pub. I like to run and swim from time to time, and I also cook. Right now its stew season, I am the stew master. Watch out.
Lula: How will you spend your Christmas and New Years holidays – and have you any New Years resolutions in mind?
Erdem: Christmas is always last minute and up in the air. My New Years resolution is to be more mysterious, in other words not so much talking… For the New Year, I am working on some lovely suitcases by globetrotter. Always look good at the airport… I think Warhol said that. And I am designing next Autumn/Winter!