Erdem’s collection for Spring Summer 2021 visits Emma Hamilton at
the court of Naples through Susan Sontag’s lens and pen. She is a character
of great gumption, who started life as the daughter of a Cheshire
blacksmith and rose to become a powerful political player. In the
shadow of the volcano, she is a force to be reckoned with. Unrelenting
in the face of adversity, she carved opportunity out of misfortune,
purpose from insecurity, passion from chaos. How might we do likewise?
In 1992, the avant-garde critic Susan Sontag surprised her peers by
penning a historical romantic novel. The Volcano Lover is set in the
royal court of 18th century Naples, where the love triangle unfolds
between Emma Hamilton, her husband the British consul Sir William Hamilton, and Horatio Nelson.
The Volcano Lover is an enlightenment romance, played out in the shadow of Vesuvius. The smoking volcano looms large literally and metaphorically; its behavior is unknowable and untameable – far bigger and more volatile than the psychodramas of the Neapolitan court. Sir William is obsessed simultaneously with the volcano and his collection of classical antiquities; the contrast of fragile man and powerful nature creates a tension that hangs heavy overhead. As the volcano rumbles and revolution rolls around the continent, everyone understands that the future will be different from the past. It is a precipice moment in time, such as we face ourselves today.
History is punctuated with explosive events that force change. Life
erupts. Though our futures remain uncertain, there is a comfort to be
found in the sheer vitality of humankind.
This collection was conceived, created, and produced in the unusual times that the pandemic has thrust upon us all. It was filmed and photographed in ancient Epping Forest, with an avenue of oaks and hornbeams for runway and audience. Erdem would like to thank his team for their ongoing passion and dedication in working with high spirits under such extraordinary circumstances.