Straddling the point where Europe and Asia meet, Istanbul has long been seen as a melting pot of cultures and ideas. This, inevitably, has fed its way into the mindset of Turkey’s emerging designers, whose fledgling fashion labels bring together a rich array of traditional inspirations blended with influences from around the world.
‘I believe strongly that calling House of Ogan just “Turkish” would be incorrect,’ says designer Gizem Ogan Yazgan of the label she founded in 2014. ‘We are a label that appeals to metropolitan women not only in Turkey but around the world.’ Ogan Yazgan’s ready-to-wear label has gained attention for the way it combines traditional craftsmanship and natural materials with a highly modern and cosmopolitan aesthetic. She cites the ‘complex ethnicity of Istanbul’ as inspiration, but also ‘unique, sophisticated and independent women’ from across the globe.
‘Comfortable silhouettes, traditional handicrafts and luxurious sustainable materials form the basics of the label,’ continues Ogan Yazgan. She begins the design process by selecting beautiful fabrics, which are then transformed into minimalist garments in classic shapes updated with creative details. Sustainability is key, both in choosing ethical materials and in creating pieces that will last beyond one season. She designs, she says, for ‘women who prefer quality and timelessness to trends’.
In its latest collection, House of Ogan focuses on a palette of pastel colours – blues, pinks and yellows – with pops of plum and navy. Shimmering lurex wool – a favourite of Ogan Yazgan’s – forms feminine off-shoulder dresses or chic matching separates. Ruffles, cut-outs and asymmetric shapes add a sculptural feel to otherwise simple shapes. A bias-cut plum dress with one shoulder and an unexpected cut-out is a particular highlight. As with all House of Ogan’s designs, it has been made by highly skilled artisans, so you can be sure of excellent quality as well as sustainability.
Another brand committed to working with only the most talented artisans is L’Atelier Caché, which began as an outerwear specialist and has since expanded to offer a select line of ready-to-wear pieces. ‘One principle remains key for the entire production – high-quality materials and workmanship,’ explains founder and designer Nihan Topaloglu – to which end everything is made in-house. Topaloglu conceived the idea of L’Atelier Caché, which she sees as ‘an outerwear fashion brand offering cutting-edge style for urban women’, while studying at New York’s prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology. But it was to Istanbul, a city renowned for excellent materials and craftspeople, that she came to establish the label.
Focusing largely on outerwear allows Topaloglu to offer variety without compromising on quality and without diluting her signature style: modern and elegant with a fashion edge. L’Atelier Caché, she says, ‘represents urban women who aspire to a confident, powerful and fashionable look while striving to adapt to fast-changing city life’. This translates into jackets and coats in styles from casual to formal, realised in everything from bold blue leather to pastel-coloured striped cotton. For spring/summer 2018, Topaloglu designed with the frequent traveller in mind. ‘The overriding message is comfort,’ she explains. But this doesn’t mean compromising on style. ‘Silhouttes are oversized and lengths are slightly longer than previous seasons,’ she continues. ‘Pyjama styling continues to influence luxurious loungewear looks.’ Light shirt dresses, loosely cut with cutaway shoulders, complement the easy chic of the core outerwear.
While L’Atelier Caché and House of Ogan lean towards minimalism, Bashaques aims to present ‘wearable art’. Designer Basak Cankes first turned heads with her autumn/winter 2015/16 collection Once, which was inspired by Murathan Özbek’s photographic exhibition of the same name. Cankes worked with skilled local artisans to incorporate elements of the photographs into clothing. The collection’s debut at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Istanbul won acclaim both at home and abroad, and earned her the Mediterranean Fashion Prize.
Cankes continues to look to art for inspiration. One of two key prints in the Bashaques cruise 2018 collection, she explains, ‘interprets Turkish miniature art through Salvador Dalí’s surrealism’. The other was inspired by the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. It was a challenge from the start, she says, to find local artisans who would embrace her vision, but once she found the right collaborators Bashaques flourished. ‘I learned the most amazing things with these open-minded people,’ she says. ‘It helped me to reach a totally new concept.’ The concepts she has explored since founding her label are celebrated in her spring/summer 2018 offering, which takes two looks from each collection to date and reinterprets them in luxurious materials including silk and lace, all in bold red. The single colour unites the very disparate designs.
For Cankes, the balance of local and global influences, realised through collaboration with skilled Turkish artisans, is key to the brand’s identity. ‘Bashaques is a brand that reflects the modernisation of traditional crafts into clothes inspired by both western and eastern tunes,’ she explains. Like House of Ogan and L’Atelier Caché, Bashaques is a Turkish brand with a global outlook, and one that looks set to win fans across the world.