Istanbul is a shopping mecca for fashionistas

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It may not have the same international fashion clout as London or Paris, but few cities can beat Istanbul in terms of creativity, diversity and craftsmanship in this great cosmopolitan metropolis. Local designers, established and up-and-coming, are reinvigorating an already powerful and world-bestselling Turkish clothing industry. Current exchange rates of around 16 Turkish lira to one euro mean it can be a shopping mecca.

On a recent visit during fashion week to this huge chaotic city overlooking the Bosphorus, the unusually snowy weather, it was hard not to be overwhelmed by its vibrant art and fashion scene, its many new brands, its museums, its concept boutiques and new trendy districts. . Although I’ve been there before, this time new developments can be seen everywhere, especially at the gigantic airport itself, which looks more like a vast city (distances to gates are long, beware). On March 18, the largest suspension bridge in the world was inaugurated in the Dardanelles.

Beauty Omelette’s outfits

From a fashion show held in the historic Crimean Memorial Church (whose chaplain, Canon Ian Sherwood, is originally from Dublin) by a young designer called Sudi Etuz, known for her use of recycled denim and tulle skirts exuberant, to an elegant 19th-century pasha mansion housing the fashion house of the country’s most well-known wedding designer, Ozlem Suer, the program unveiled a wide range of what the city has to offer in different neighborhoods. Getting around in the traffic jams of Istanbul was a challenge though.

New development

Our first stop was Galataport in Karakoy, a pioneering new development considered the largest coastal project in the world, with an innovative underground cruise terminal, a new promenade overlooking the sea, restaurants, art galleries and hotels that have revitalized a once dilapidated area. from the city. The restored 1905 post office, a stunning space with a dome and slate roof, houses a gallery of fashion boutiques that includes Opscool (opschool.com.tr) with its colorful quilted coats, Panizsima (panizsima.com) – stunning hand-embroidered jackets and Sevan Bicakci (sevanbicakci.com), a famous Turkish jeweler known for his intaglio work with many Hollywood fans. A modern art museum (Istanbul Modern) designed by Renzo Piano is due to open soon.

Not far away is Bey (beykarakoy.com), a men’s “concept store” with classic shapes, good color coordinates and accessories that has benefited from Karakoy’s development. In menswear, designer Emre Erdemoglu (with 115,000 Instagram followers) is known for his innovative streetwear and dynamic accessories, while in Nisantasi, the main shopping district of Giziagate (gizia.com) is a sprawling one-stop shop of rising Turkish companies. designers alongside recognized players such as Dice Kayek, the brand founded by two sisters who operate between Paris and Istanbul.

The focus tends to be on evening and occasion wear – Istanbulites would love bachelor parties and dressing up, as evidenced by the elaborate dresses and accessories, gold shoes, decoration for the hair and jewelry.

Liza, a cat from Istanbul, asleep next to a Hiva Atelier calfskin crossboy

Liza, a cat from Istanbul, asleep next to a Hiva Atelier calfskin crossboy

Nearby, at Hiva (hivaatelier.com), a small corner boutique offering colorful calfskin bags, owner Dilara Ertan explained that her business started in 2019 selling online with Wolf & Badger; today, 70% of its customers come from the Middle East. One thing you immediately notice in the town is the local love of cats (there are over 100,000) and in Hiva a toothless feline called Liza slept peacefully and undisturbed next to a shoulder bag expensive.

In the same neighborhood, Beauty Omelette (beautyomelette.com) is the catch-all title of a clothing and skincare brand with a cute boutique furnished with glass tables and mirrors by Canadian visual artist Jordan Soderberg Mills. Dressed in a sleek gray pinstripe pantsuit, owner Nur Bilen Yavuzer (who is married to a famous plastic surgeon) was clearly the best advertisement for her brand, embodying the store’s masculine, minimalist aesthetic with a palette of controlled colors reminiscent of Jil Sander. Skin care products made in Korea by the company are sold worldwide, with one of them, she says, being particularly effective after surgery.

Affordable luxury

Another day, we traveled to Bebek, an affluent neighborhood along the European shores of the Bosphorus, to meet mother-daughter team Esin and Benan Terzioglu, lawyer and architect respectively, two forces behind Qimu bags (qimubags.com ), an “affordable luxury brand” in calfskin, vegan leather, satin and velvet. The bags are deliberately designed to be super lightweight and versatile, so a strap doubles as a belt, turns a handbag into a shoulder or crossbody style. “The only weight is what you put into it,” says Benan.

A Qimu bag with multi-function shoulder strap

A Qimu bag with multi-function shoulder strap

In the city’s famous Grand Bazaar with its 4,000 shops, visitors may not want to see any bags or jewelry, fake or genuine, after wandering its huge labyrinthine interior. However, several places stood out. Dr. Suleyman Ertas is one of the country’s foremost textile specialists, having provided fabrics for films such as Noah, Hobbit and Troy. The Syrian-owned Maison Dalep offers the finest breathtaking embroidered scarves as well as silver and jade jewelry. Allahverdi supplies all sorts of gemstones to other makers, while in his small shop Nick’s calligraphy and intricate paintings on dried leaves are world renowned.

The Turkish label Nu was founded in 2002

The Turkish label Nu was founded in 2002

The final destination was the sprawling Zorlu Centre, a new upscale shopping mall in Besikas, an important historic and commercial district, home to a five-star Raffles hotel, offices and apartments and the largest department store of international brands and Turks, called Beymen. (beymen.com). His shoe display was the best I have ever seen, mostly international brands, with a few Turkish ones and their own Academia line.

The first store at the entrance, however, is Nu (nu.com.tr), a sophisticated Turkish label founded in 2002 with international appeal, monochrome and Japanese references alongside bold prints and Issey Miyake-style pleats. (he has a store in London Marylebone).

Wedding dress

The last stop was to visit the country’s premier designer, Ozlem Suer (ozlemsuer.com), who has been in business for over 20 years and is known for her fairytale wedding and evening dresses, as well as her fashionable every day, in a beautiful historic building. The fabrics were luxurious – laces, silk tulles, micro taffetas, satin, gold and silver brocades, and the styles either romantic and detailed or simple sheaths of exceptional finish.

A wedding dress fashion show in Istanbul with creations by Ozlem Suer er.  Photography: Ozan Guzelce/Dia Images via Getty Images

A wedding dress fashion show in Istanbul with creations by Ozlem Suer er. Photography: Ozan Guzelce/Dia Images via Getty Images

Wedding tourism is big in Istanbul, and brides often order up to four dresses for their wedding events, including bachelorette parties. Everything is handmade and each dress can take up to 15 days, with prices ranging from €600 to €6,000 in sizes up to 44. Brides come from the UK, Italy and Italy. somewhere else.

Even more impressive was the newly renovated Ataturk Cultural Center in Taksim Square, where a huge new opera house, a sphere with 15,000 hand-painted red ceramic tiles (all made by women) will open this month. The center also houses a magnificent museum of musical instruments, a library of 20,000 books, a children’s center, a theater and an art gallery. Just more examples of how in this multi-layered city of 17 million, the civic culture of trendy food, music and art is enjoying a dramatic revival, further cementing its reputation as an exciting global destination.

My guide (with over 20 years of experience) who I can recommend was Gonul Gudu Demirkol – [email protected]

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