For Fall menswear, Erdem has looked at the work of two 20th century female photographers: Madame d’Ora and Madame Yevonde. Madame d’Ora was Dora Kallmus, a Viennese, self-taught portrait photographer, who counted Picasso and Josephine Baker as subjects and friends. Madame Yevonde was Yevonde Middleton, a London-based portraitist and still-life photographer who pioneered the use of colour in photography.
Both characters led extraordinary lives with several different chapters, but we are concerned here with the pre-war period in the 1930s. Madame d’Ora’s portraits from this era when she was based in Paris capture the poise and personality of her subjects; inciteful glances that belied propriety and offer up expressions of individuality. This was also Madame Yevonde’s most intense period of colour experimentation; the simultaneously faded and saturated tones of her images lend the collection its rich palette.
He is a curiously timeless character – an individual passing through the studio and lens of both women. The collection comprises a series of carefully honed archetypal pieces, worn in different combinations for different effect. Suits, overcoats, knitwear, shirts, over-shirts, trousers, jeans are variously manifest in different textiles and finishes, and alternatively paired together in expected and unexpected ways to express his whim and character.
In places there are direct references to pieces in d’Ora’s portraits: wide, peaked lapel suits and bouclé overcoats, shirts with polka dot motifs and oversized stripes. Saturated block colours take their cue from Yevonde’s photography: murky yellows and mustards, vivid peacock blue and neon russets and browns are interspersed with monochrome geranium leaf motifs, reminiscent of early botanical photogram techniques. They bring a graphic and whimsical edge to embroidered cotton drill suits, cotton canvas trousers and matching cotton poplin shirts and trousers.
The juxtaposition of smart and casual, sharp and louche, brings an air of relaxed confidence to the collection. A mohair cashmere twinset is worn with corduroy trousers and matching cummerbund. A deep navy blue corduroy suit under a vivid orange boiled wool overcoat vibrates with the depth of colour and contrast.
A pale lemon, brushed alpaca double-breasted overcoat is offset by rich mustard corduroy trousers for exuberant effect.
Floral printed, tailored silk pyjama suits have a quiet decadence, while an olive leather bomber jacket with shearling collar combines sharp elegance with utility. Mohair fishermen’s jumpers and a boucle hoodie have a languorous ease to them. Even a shrunken herringbone tweed suit feels effortless, not strict. Dressing up or dressing down, these are comfortable, practical and special pieces to be properly worn and lived in.
The effect is to celebrate the ambiguity between formality and informality, uniform and individual. It is a collection that can be deconstructed and reconstructed to be suitably worn for any occasion, fitting feelings for every mood. His way of dressing is his way of life.