Inspired by the opulent summer gardens of the Alhambra palace in Granada at night, the dress was about creating a wildly extravagant spectacle that could fuse the opposing natures of leather and silk organza.
Powerful, dramatic and decadent - we wanted a dress that would command attention and provide us with the sweeping grand finale for our ERRE Spring/Summer 2014 collection show at South African Fashion Week (SAFW). A dress that could inspire SAFW’s Lucilla Booyzen to nominate her for Design Indaba’s Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) for 2015.
Locally produced leather is a signature ERRE material. Each season we develop a unique laser cut pattern which we then incorporate into the collection in a variety of shapes and forms. Each season then also comes with its own piles of leather off-cuts that challenge us to find creative ways in which to recycle it so that nothing goes to waste.
In the case of the beautiful Alhambra, the humble patterned off-cuts excelled themselves to actually provide us with the starting point for the design inspiration – to create a trail of leather flowers and filigree detail as the dress’s high drama impact factor.
But like any intoxicating beauty, she also required complete commitment - a two-month long dedicated team, endless long nights, even more broken needles as we painstakingly cut and hand-stitched 2500 leather circles - and the willingness to push all our collective technical and creative prowess to the brink as we searched for unknown ways to rewrite the laws of physics to support the gravitas of leather with the lightness of organza.
But the loveliness of the final creation surpassed our expectation and made every patient restart and broken needle worth the dream.
The leather became voluptuous flowers scattered on a gossamer field of organza contrasting their structure against the soft sheerness of the silk - an exquisite interplay between firm and fragile, soft and strong – and a perfect tribute from ERRE to the eternal romance of the Alhambra’s summer night gardens.