Deborah Mitford's curtain remnants become Erdem dresses at London Fashion Week

Erdem's spring / summer 2024 show at London Fashion Week
Erdem's spring / summer 2024 show at London Fashion Week

Remnants of the late Duchess of Devonshire’s chintz curtains were turned into quilted opera coats, clutch bags and ball skirts on the catwalk at London Fashion Week on Sunday night.

The designer Erdem Moralıoğlu was given a cache of upholstery fabrics from the late Deborah Cavendish’s Derbyshire estate, Chatsworth, which prompted an entire collection devoted to the Duchess’s 1940s style.

Erdem upcycled swatches within textile patchworks, clashing the rich vintage florals with new brocades and printed silks. His new materials included etchings of “Debo’s” famous Chatsworth chickens, which were also honoured via gold hen brooches.

On his moodboard backstage, the designer showed a 1949 Cecil Beaton portrait of Deborah wearing a velvet off-shoulder ballgown and pearls, plus a 1941 image of the duchess and her pet whippet - the latter wearing five strands of pearls in place of a collar.

Textiles were upcycled from Chatsworth House
Textiles from Chatsworth House were reimagined

“I was given access to work with the archivist at Chatsworth,” Erdem told The Telegraph after the show, which took place at the British Museum in London.

“I was very inspired by Deborah, and by the ideas of inheritance and make do and mend. She very much believed in the idea of making things to last and had previously turned Chatsworth curtain fabrics into cushions and things. The more I researched her and the more I found out about her, the more I fell in love with her.”

Guests on the front row included Ashley Graham, Karen Elson, Lily James and Billie Piper
Guests on the front row included Ashley Graham, Karen Elson, Lily James and Billie Piper

All of the Mitford sisters - who were the talk of British social scene in the late 1930s and 1940s - took some interest in style. But it was the youngest Debo, who died in 2014, who perhaps had the strongest influence on fashion - both in her lifetime, and now after.

A lifelong friend of Hubert de Givenchy, as well as Oscar de la Renta and Valentino, her Chatsworth home was famously filled with fashion treasures. Her granddaughter was the late fashion model Stella Tennant, and Tennant’s daughter Cecily contributed some embroideries to Erdem’s collection.

Erdem's spring / summer 2024 collection
Erdem's spring / summer 2024 collection mixed vintage and new fabrics

Every season Erdem is inspired by the aristocracy (past collections have referenced the late Queen Elizabeth’s 1950s wardrobe). He has dressed the Princess of Wales on numerous occasions since June 2011, when the Princess arrived on her first royal tour of Canada wearing a dress by the Montreal-born designer. In fact there were plenty of dresses in this collection that she might like to wear come spring, to the Baftas or on new royal tours.

The Princess of Wales’s previous favourite British designer, Sarah Burton, left her position at Alexander McQueen last week. There are plenty of other candidates ready to fill the void in her royal wardrobe - with a collection designed for high society, Erdem is now surely the front runner.