Duchess of Devonshire Deborah Cavendish has long been a source of inspiration for British designers. Something about her love for 50s ballgowns, Elvis Presley and being a prominent member of British society in the 30s and 40s. But no atelier has ever had access to the English aristocrat, writer and memoirist’s belongings…until now. On September 17, Erdem Moralioglu sent models down his Spring/Summer 2024 runway in remnants of the late Royals’ chintz curtains, plucked from the family property she famously worked to restore: Chatsworth House.
Like Westwood, Erdem has always experimented with the signifiers of Britain’s past—corsets, harnesses and bustles—famously reimagining them with a supremely modern twist. But his SS24 outing could top the (Victoria sponge) cake: he turned Cavendish’s actual drapes into quilted opera coats, voluminous skirts and evening dresses.
Yes, dresses with full skirts and in rich, regal fabrics swanned down the runway, some affixed with structured bodice detailing, or a small cape, others with delicate floral embroidery, or leather gloves. Bejewelled lingerie dresses sauntered throughout the ornate archways of the British Museum, a direct contrast to the rockstar leather jackets—a standout of the latter, a studded olive green with tassels fit for a saloon. Sharp tailoring extended into blazers; some structured, others trimmed with cascading layers of lace at the waist. But the winning look arrived with the third last model, an off-the-shoulder, floor length gown, with the aforementioned curtains—in a swirling, felt aureolin yellow—draped like a sarong and fasted with an embellished dragonfly clasp.
While there is a lot of online chatter about the shoes—”why the flippers?” “Floppy shoes?”—some are chalking up the flappery to a play on Cavendish’s love of rare breeds of chickens. Could they resemble chicken feet? Perhaps. But whatever it is, the entire 43-look collection is like peeking inside the wild and eccentric dress-up box of Cavendish. The treasures, the glamour, the utter joy.