Fashioning Art: Erdem’s Take on Rousseau’s ‘The Dream’

Erdem Spring 15 vs The Dream (1910), Henri Rousseau [Image taken from Fash of the Titans]

The Dream is one of more than 25 jungle paintings Rousseau created in his lifetime and the final painting he completed before his death. In the painting, he envisions Yadwigha, the mistress of his youth, who lounges nude on an indoor chaise longue surrounded by lush foliage and wild animals, creating a scene that is both surreal and disparate. Although Rousseau made many such exotic paintings, he never ventured beyond his native France. Instead, he was inspired by the impressions of distant natural landscapes created for city dwellers through world expositions, popular literature and films, museums and the Paris Zoo. The stylised jungle greenery in this painting were based on Rousseau’s visits to the Paris Museum of Natural History and the Jardin des Plantes. Wrote Rousseau, “When I am in these hothouses and see the strange plants from exotic lands, it seems to me that I am entering a dream”.

Erdem’s Spring 2015 collection similarly plays with this blend of urban and exotic. Marianne North, a Victorian botanical researcher, traveler and artist, was Erdem Moralioglu’s inspiration for the collection.

Marianne North

Marianne North

Her influence led Moralioglu to explore the jungle by way of the greenhouses of London’s Kew Gardens. Dense, layered applications of feathers and fabric jostle with colourful embroidery, echoing the wilderness and chaos of nature. Moralioglu was equally inspired by the physical architecture of the greenhouses he visited, which lends an ordered, clean precision that underpins the collection. In this look, a tailored skirt and leather brogues are juxtaposed with the textural, riotous top to maintain a harmonious dichotomy of urban and wilderness.

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