The gossamer lace dresses printed with a profusion of blooms in Erdem’s Spring 2012 collection called to mind a few things: a summer of leisure, innocence about to be lost, perhaps a girl one step removed from reality. London, U.K.–based Canadian designer Erdem Moralioglu explains that he conceived the designs after reading Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse, “and it stuck.” The French Riviera–set story of a girl’s complicated relationship with her widowed father and his lovers was written by Sagan in 1954, when she was just 18.
This literary link in Moralioglu’s design process isn’t out of the ordinary. A voracious collector of books—he estimates his current count at close to 1,000—he frequently looks to them for inspiration. “I can point to books on my shelves that were catalysts for different collections,” he says.
Moralioglu invests heavily in first editions of art and fashion books, buying three or four a week (“a bad week is six”). His most recent acquisition was Bals: Legendary Costume Balls by British GQ luxury editor Nicholas Foulkes, who looked at the nine most lavish private costume parties of the 20th century. Another recent favourite is Diana Vreeland’s autobiography, D.V., a gift from his mum.
Moralioglu is sentimental about a copy of Goodbye Picasso by American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan, because he thought it was published the year he (Moralioglu) was born, the same year Picasso died. In fact, we gently break the news here that Picasso died in 1973, it was published in 1974, and Moralioglu was born in 1976. In any case, the book is filled with Duncan’s photographs of Picasso’s work and the last year of the great artist’s life, and is a testament to the two men’s friendship. Moralioglu’s tastes weren’t always so highbrow—as a youngster, he used to read the illustrated Rupert Bear Annuals, a British comic-strip concerning a cub in yellow checked trousers and matching scarf.
One of Moralioglu’s top browsing spots is Idea Books in London. Situated in Comme des Garçons’ emporium, Dover Street Market, it’s run by the fashion-conscious booksellers behind Marc Jacobs’ Bookmarc stores. It’s easy to imagine Moralioglu opening a book-shop of his own in his twilight years. Would he do it? “I have actually said that!” he says. “It would be somewhere off the Left Bank in Paris. I would probably be a very grouchy old man, not willing to sell anything.”