One-on-one with Erdem: the designer dishes on dressing royals and his dream dinner party

By Shinan Govani

A romantic at heart, and a perfectionist in his bones, Erdem Moralioglu is an “It” Brit with decidedly Canadian beginnings. The designer – whose fans include First Ladies and leading ladies (think Claire Foy, Keira Knightley) – began studying fashion in Toronto at Ryerson University before attending London’s Royal College of Art.

Today, his eponymous label is ubiquitous in fashion pages and a favourite among new-school royals, too. “It’s always an honour to see so many different types of women wearing my work,” he says. Touching base recently with the bespectacled couturier, 41, I zeroed in on his passions and his inspirations.

ROYAL COURT

It’s no secret that Erdem is favoured by the young royals, especially the Duchess of Cambridge. Not only has she worn the designer many times at important functions, such as Trooping the Colour, but she has shown off his garments around the world – from the royal tour to Canada in 2011, to a state dinner in Stockholm just last month.

Then there’s Princess Eugenie, who donned the label for her recent official engagement photo.

But the question now: Could there be an even more outsized royal moment on the horizon? When it comes to the odds on a designer for Meghan Markle’s gown, when she marries Prince Harry in May, Erdem is a name that surfaces often among the fashion cognoscenti, since Meghan is no stranger to the label, having worn it when she attended a wedding with her prince in Jamaica last year. Moreover, she sang the design star’s praises in Vanity Fair, telling the magazine Erdem is “a designer I’ve been wearing for years.”

The dressmaker, naturally, is too discreet and too circumspect to speak to any speculation.

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FIRST FROCK

"It was actually a dress that I made for my twin sister’s Barbie doll – a strapless cocktail mid-shin circle-skirt dress with some very crude stitches. I still have it. As a child [in Montreal with a father of Turkish extraction and a British mother] I was two people – I loved my Lego and Playmobil, but through my sister I also had access to all these amazing dolls."

TWIN LIFE

"Having a twin is such a funny thing – from the day you’re born, you do everything with another person. It’s almost like having a female version of myself. My sister [15 minutes younger, Sara] and I are very close."

INSPIRED BY ART

"I bought a large format collage by David Hockney called “Ian, Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire.” It’s an image that I keep at my store [his flagship, in London]. I love the fact that you can see David Hockney’s feet at the bottom of the photo so it’s as if you’re seeing it exactly from his perspective."

KNOWN FOR HIS SPECS

"I have a variety of styles but always buy them from Oliver Peoples. I had an unfortunate pair of wire-rimmed glasses when I was at school but have worn this square-lens style in black ever since."

SPECIAL PLACE

"The stacks at the London Library – I go there to do research and could spend hours getting lost in all the books."

READING NOW

"Portraits and Observations by Truman Capote, a collection of short stories and essays from his career that includes wonderful portraits of stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando – I love his acidity. I’m also reading Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood."

FANTASY DINNER PARTY

Asked what cast of characters – dead or alive – he’d invite to a dream dinner, Erdem pulls out a crosssection of names that ought to come as no surprise to those who know just how much he pulls from history and art for his designs: “Truman Capote, Nina Simone, Yves Saint Laurent, David Hockney, Irving Penn, David Lynch and Wolfgang Tillmans,” he tells Hello!

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