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Istanbul contrast


Ece Ege, the designer behind Dice Kayek, tells Janet Hart-Da Silva about her passion for fashion and the city that inspired her latest collection

Janet Hart-Da Silva ,

Discovering Dice Kayek is a delight. Each light, uncomplicated garment harks back to the days of vintage glamour and femininity, when fashion meant beautiful clothes that, in turn, made the wearer feel beautiful. The label’s current collection for spring/summer 2010 consists of just 18 dresses and one top and skirt combination. The confidence to produce such a simple, straightforward collection is rare. Too often, in a bid to stay ahead of the game, fashion designers are pressured to do too many things at once, resulting in vast collections loaded with unnecessary flourishes.

The designer behind Dice Kayek is also a rarity. Ece Ege is Turkish through and through, but trained in Paris and has lived and worked there for years. She has a strong eye for colour and simple shapes; and she knows exactly what she wants.

While Dice Kayek is stocked across the world, Ege is proud of its Turkish roots. ‘It is very important to me to stay connected to Turkish culture,’ she says. ‘I go back and forth to Istanbul every 10 days. Paris and Istanbul are very different cities and I am lucky to be able to move between both so I am never bored.’

The Dice Kayek spring/summer 2010 collection, Istanbul Contrast, relies particularly heavily on this strong connection. The collection is inspired by the architecture of Istanbul – a true city of contrasts, according to Ege, where centuries of Islamic tradition meet Western modernity. ‘Some women, for example, wear chadors; others wear tight designer jeans,’ says Ege. ‘Istanbul hides and it reveals. Vibrant cafés filled with fun-loving kids and mosques ringing with prayers coexist on the same street. As a Turkish designer, these contrasts are part of my world. I wanted to explore them in this collection.’

Istanbul’s status as one of 2010’s European Capitals of Culture also influenced the collection. ‘It seemed timely for me to design a collection that reflected the diversity and the intersection of cultures and traditions,’ says Ege.

Istanbul’s many facets are represented throughout the collection. The rich metallic embroidery on the top and skirt ensemble, for example, photo 1 reflects the architecture of Istanbul’s famous Galata Bridge. A dress’s intricate lace embroidery is influenced by the winter garden at the Dolmabahçe Palace. photo 2 Every designer has a favourite piece in each collection and, for Ege, it is the crèpe silk dress inspired by Hagia Sophia, the iconic former church, now a museum. ‘It has a simple front but is contrasted with beautiful ruffles on the back. photo 3 I love St Sophia and I miss it when I am in Paris.’

Dice Kayek was founded by Ege and her sister Ayşe in Paris in 1992 and the label is now exported to 35 countries, proving the business acumen behind the pretty frocks. The company is a member of the Fédération Française de la Couture (French Federation of Fashion) and the brand shows collections twice yearly on the runways of Paris Fashion Week. With the help of Turquality, the Turkish government’s initiative to support international trading, the company has established distribution agreements in Asia which allow the company to grow its presence in the region with the backing of local know-how. Other smart business moves include the development of the Machka ‘mass couture’ brand.

‘Machka is an upmarket fashion brand with affordable price points,’ explains Ege. ‘The owner is a friend of mine who asked me to get involved in designing the collection. I have been involved since 2006 and I am very proud of the brand.’ Machka now has three stores in Istanbul and outlets in Ankara, İzmir, London and Greece.

What next for Dice Kayek? ‘We are planning a special show at St Irene’s church in Istanbul this summer as part of the celebrations for Istanbul’s Capital of Culture status,’ says Ege. ‘I am really excited about this as St Irene’s is one of my favourite places in Istanbul.’ Ege has big plans for the company but is taking things one step at a time. ‘One day, I would like to design costumes for a movie and I would love to do a shoe collection. Shoes are like art to me. I have so many ideas I don’t know what to do next!’

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