Though Istanbul prides itself on looking West, its fashion designers have not all forgotten their local heritage. Atıl Kutoğlu is particularly known for his ethnic motifs, and although his collection tried to do too many different things, it had plenty of his signature looks. Colourful patterns featuring eight-pointed stars, reminiscent of Seljuk-era tile work, appeared in both his womenswear and menswear. Erol Albayrak’s African Sunset collection was equally flamboyant, offering a dizzying panoply that included tribal-looking dresses, exotic floral designs and colourful toga-like pieces. Meanwhile, the geometric print used by Niyazi Erdoğan in everything from men’s shirts to trousers appeared to have come straight out of a book of tales from the orient.
Turkey’s leather industry is highly regarded, so it’s not surprising that local fashion designers gravitate towards the material; along with fur, it was featured front and centre. Simay Bülbül is especially well known for her deft use of leather, and in this respect she did not disappoint. An homage to recently deceased Keriman Halis Ece, crowned the first Miss Turkey in 1932, Bülbül’s collection combined beautifully worked leather with silk, crepe, satin and other fabrics in elegant period styles. Atil Kutoğlu and Erol Albayrak both threw flashy crocodile-skin dresses and exotic fur coats into the mix. More subtly, Gamze Saraçoğlu incorporated fur accents and occasional swaths of leather into her first ready-to-wear collection.
While Gamze Saraçoğlu branched out with more masculine looks than her trademark slinky silk and satin dresses, other designers embraced the feminine. Mehtap Elaidi’s 1940s-inspired range featured chic fabrics and cuts, vintage floral prints and a gorgeous palette including black, red, intense blues and olive green. The elegantly draped pieces at Nej, in natural hues such as cream, gray, cerulean, burnt sienna and puce, were delicate but unfussy, befitting a label that uses only organic materials. Perhaps the most understated womenswear was Nihan Peker’s IFW debut collection of minimalist dresses and blouse-and-trouser combinations, all in black and cream.
The guys have it
Designers such as Tolga Turan – one of several young talents being nurtured at Studio Kaprol, helmed by Turkish fashion industry veteran Arzu Kaprol – showed that menswear doesn’t have to be an afterthought. Pairing inventively tailored outerwear with rustic shirts and trousers and stylish footwear, his ensembles united hipster sensibilities with a certain backwoods traditionalism. Niyazi Erdoğan broke out of the mould in a different way, combining his kaleidoscopically patterned fabric with skinny trousers, fishnet vests, satin blazers and leather jackets in a palette of black and dark colours to conjure a rocker vibe with ethnic touches. Not to be left behind, the Avva label offered trend-driven designs for urban men, from slim-leg trousers with rolled cuffs to sleek suit jackets and wintry accessories like fur trapper-style hats.
Some designers took a more experimental bent; particularly successful was Özlem Kaya’s innovative collection made almost entirely from black and bright blue neoprene wetsuit material. Embellished with geometric cut-outs, her hooded jackets, trench coats, flared trousers and tennis skirts presented a chic riff on sportswear. Zeynep Erdoğan’s designs ranged from more subtle white and black outfits to exaggerated animal prints and pieces adorned with racoon representations, while Günseli Türkay likewise evoked the animal kingdom with architectural dresses in reptilian patterns, accessorised with white feather chokers. Wearable or not, they were among IFW’s most eye-catching numbers.