• Text Cristian Burbano
  • 22nd September 2020

The Volcano Lover

Erdem Moralioglu is a storyteller, with each season focusing on a new woman, either from his own life or from history.  For SS21, his chosen muse was Emma Hamilton, the heroine from 1992 historical romance novel The Volcano Lover by US writer Susan Sontag. Set in 18th century Naples, it chronicles Emma’s love triangle with her husband, the British consul Sir William Hamilton, and Horatio Nelson. Set against the volatile backdrop of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano itself plays a key character, with its uncontrollable and untamable behaviour looming, an uncertain future awaits them – echoing current global events, both Covid-19 and political.

As with most designers this season, Erdem went digital with a fashion show shot on location in Epping Forest, Essex, streaming on the brand’s website and social channels. Models walked a dirt path surrounded by lush green rows of oaks and hornbeams, set to a classical soundtrack.

“[Emma Hamilton] is a force to be reckoned with,” the show notes stated. “Unrelenting in the face of adversity, she carved opportunity out of misfortune, purpose from insecurity, passion from chaos. How might we do likewise?” An open question posed to us all, Erdem’s own answer manifested as a collection that let us escape inside his rich narrative. The designer’s signature embroidery was in bloom, with organza dresses populated by delicate flora, while muslins, brocades and military bows brought Emma’s story into today’s volcanic epoch. Hooded coats were protection against falling lava and ribbons across models shoulders resembled rucksack straps – these women saw disaster in their peripherals and were ready to act.