Female Designers Shaking Up Istanbul’s Fashion Scene

My friends often ask me what constitutes style in Turkey’s fashion and cultural capital, Istanbul. Over the past decade, along with its contemporary art and design scene, the city’s fashion industry has been booming. A new generation of young Turkish designers has emerged, not only favored by locals but also becoming increasingly noticed by international fashionistas. The Istanbul Fashion Week, sponsored by Mercedes Benz, started a few years ago and is now a fixture on the annual style calendar, taking place every September. The city also launched a dedicated Design Biennial in 2012, with the second edition taking place this year. Boutiques stocking clothes and jewelry by emerging and established designers can be found in the Galata, Nişantaşı, Cihangir, Tophane, and Bebek neighborhoods. Here are my top five female fashion designers and some of their stunning creations.

Dice Kayek

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Probably my favorites, this fashion-forward duo, comprised sisters Ece and Ayşe Ege, has been making gravity defying couture since they opened their first studio in Istanbul in 1992. Their Istanbul Contrasts collection, made from lamé brocade and cotton, was inspired by the robes of Ottoman rulers, Byzantine mosaics, and the domes of Istanbul’s mosques and palaces, and won Victoria & Albert Museum’s coveted Jameel Prize last year. Check out the short film they made for their latest collection on their website.

Arzu Kaprol 

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The darling of the Turkish media counts Meg Ryan, Gisele Bündchen, and Sienna Miller as fans. She is known for her textured sculptural pieces, with pleating detailing and made from lush fabrics.

Gönül Paksoy

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One of the Turkey’s most established designers, Paksoy aims to bridge the gap between fashion and art. Her boutique in Nişantaşı stocks gorgeous clothes in hand-dyed fabrics, inspired by Ottoman fashion and often incorporating vintage beads and different textiles. If you want a one-of-a-kind and beautifully crafted handbag or piece of jewelry, head straight to Paksoy’s store.

Elif Cığızoğlu

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The social pages in Turkish magazines are covered in pics of celebrities and socialites in Cığızoğlu’s structured yet feminine designs. With a penchant for bright colors and pastels, the young designer works in unusual shapes to create clothes that are both distinctive and very wearable. Her dresses are stunning but it is her pantsuits that I’m a huge fan of.

Zeynep Tosun 

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Tosun’s quirky, out-there pieces have attracted the likes of Lady Gaga who wore her yellow, high-necked dress with feather details out and about in London last year. Referencing everything from Western to equestrian to Victorian to space age, Tosun is not afraid to experiment with shape, color, and detail to produce truly amazing work.

Title image source: www.myneonrock.com

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