The city of Istanbul may be known for its fusion of cultures, beautiful historical sites and meaty shish kebabs, but it is also proving to be a competitive fashion arena.
I was recently invited to attend Istanbul Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012, which proved to be something of an eye opener. The city is still young in the fashion field, especially when compared with the “big four” — London, Paris, New York and Milan. This year’s event was only the sixth edition, yet the upcoming and somewhat unheard of designers certainly proved their worth. The collections were a blend of trend-setting and independent designs.
Istanbul isn’t necessarily a place that springs to mind when you think of fashion, but the art world is very prominent, with a film festival and hundreds of galleries. So it seems fitting that another form of artistry — that of tailoring and couture, would also begin to mark its territory in the region.
Although not a terribly large affair — the catwalk shows were held in only two locations — the ever-so-cool W Hotel and a specially erected grand tent — an extensive range of collections were exhibited by the designers. Additionally, I had the chance to visit a number of the said designers’ showrooms, prior to the shows, to take my time musing over the pieces.
A number of famous faces made an appearance for the catwalk shows, including Michael Jackson’s brother Jermaine. The press reaction to this was frenzied, it’s just a shame I had no idea who any of them were!
The collections showcased the AW12 trends and what we should all be wearing come September. Expect shops to be filled with an abundance of fur, leather in every way, shape and form, earthy hues, tailored cuts, animal prints and sheer fabrics.
Here’s an insight into five of the designers that exhibited at Istanbul AW2012:
The designer: Zeynep Erdogan
The background: Zeynep won the ITKIB Young Designers contest in 2001, followed by the presentation of her first collection in 2006 at the Upside Fashion Fair during Milan Fashion Week. As of this summer, Zeynep’s designs will be available at Spiga2, Dolce & Gabbana’s concept store in Milan.
The collection: The Zeynep Erdogan line transforms vintage items with customised patterns, cuts and styles. Inspired by the cheeky raccoon, the designer’s AW12 collection uses blurred stripes, animal motifs and cut out segments.
The colours: Monochrome shades, burnt orange and a nude palette.
The background: Ranked first in Turkey at Derisigner 2003 (a leather design competition), Simay opened her first store, the Leather Design Boutique, at Galata in 2009.
The collection: Simay Bülbül designs combine leather with elegant fabrics to create unique and personalised designs. The AW12 collection sees woven leather, tailored items, opulent furs and lace.
The colours: Earthy hues, whites and shades of brown.
The background: Tuvana opened her first fashion store in 1999 and subsequently founded her label “Tuvanam’ in 2005.
The collection: The Tuvanam AW12 range is most noticeable for the use of contrasting fabrics. Silk, sequins, leather and sheer fabrics are pieced together to create outfits. There are also many tailored and workwear-appropriate pieces in the collection such as jackets, pencil skirts and blouses.
The colours: Autumnal hues of varying shades of brown, berry red, plum purple and beige.
The background: With a lengthy career in the fashion industry to her name, it wasn’t until 16 years later that Çigdem opened her first store in Galata. Her label, called after her own name, continues to evolve and Çigdem also provides design support for various other brands.
The collection: Channeling a futuristic vibe, the Çigdem Akin AW12 line up includes silver as the colour that pops. Thick quilted fabrics are used to create structured wrap-around jackets whilst boiled wool dresses will provide that extra warmth.
The colours: Black, off-white, khaki and silver.
The background: After studying at the Fashion & Art Academy, Erol staged his first catwalk show at the Düsseldorf CPD Fashion Fair. His own collection, titled “Selamlik” was launched in 2001 under the sponsorship of the Dutch Royal Family and he received the most successful designer award at the 2001 EU Quality Awards.
The collection: Harnessing a somewhat punk-rock attitude, Erol Albayrak’s AW12 line includes a long leather trench as a key piece, in addition to fur jackets teamed with leather trousers. However there are also a number of feminine pieces, such as an ethereal white sheer dress and a number of pieces and two fuchsia pink floaty dresses.
The colours: Black, shades of pink, plum purple, mustard yellow and autumnal red tones.