Erdem with his SS11 moodboard

"You can't run the preview until after the V&A launch," so instructed Erdem when I went to see him last week before his London Fashion Week show. Well, that launch for "Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909 - 1929" was last evening at the V&A, and now I am allowed to reveal that lucky Erdem was granted access to the imposing Blythe House, the V&A archive in west London to get some time with the beautiful costumes of Bakst and others for the Ballet Russes over the summer.

From the V&A:
"Diaghilev’s extraordinary company, which survived a twenty-year rollercoaster of phenomenal successes and crippling problems, revolutionised ballet. As importantly, Diaghilev’s use of avant-garde composers, such as Stravinsky and designers such as Bakst, Goncharova, Picasso and Matisse, made a major contribution to the introduction of Modernism."

A detail from SS11 and the Swarovski palette Erdem chose

"This is the first time I have really intensely researched something. I was given unlimited access all summer. I turned the Ballet Russes costumes inside out. I looked at the scrims. What is surreal is that all the costumes are stored beneath ghostly white covers on stands, and the spaces within the clothes are filled with white wadding. It created these naive shapes. It seemed colour was bled out of the work. Then as you pulled off the covers, something so bright and beautiful was waiting to be discovered. With the costumes the sense is of structured clothing with diaphanous flowing skirts, which I have tried to put across with the collection."

These dresses were inspired by the stored garments of the Ballet Russes at Blythe House

"Blythe House is actually quite a creepy," he says. I can concur  while visiting this summer, it felt like stepping back 100 years to shadowy rooms full of eerie white-wrapped shapes. "It was impossible not to feel totally inspired by the Ballet Russes," said Erdem. "When I asked Nick Kirkwood to do the shoes, he was equally inspired. The colours I chose were kelly green, lime, red and touches of orange, and of course, white. The way I worked with Swarovski this season was to take small crystals in those colours and hand sew them onto the flowers that match, and to incorproate them into the diamond patterns."

Crystal application in the studio

The Grazia team loved this dress

My three favourite looks

Images: Catwalking.com
Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909 - 1929 begins on Saturday
to book tickets go here.