Istanbul’s Rising Stars – Emerging Fashion Models to Watch

Fashion Week Istanbul

With Istanbul sitting on two continents (Europe and Asia), it’s no surprise that its fashion can’t be pinned down. This week’s shows reflected this dynamism with boundless variety.

Mevlut Ozkaya at Murver impressed our inspectors with his wood fire cooking style, which gives local products a bold flavor. He also has a strong commitment to local producers.

Mel Ozbek

With the potential to become an industry star, Mel Ozbek’s ethereal take on feminine style is one to watch. Having earned a spot at the runway for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Istanbul, the Turkish designer showcased a dreamy collection of frothy pleated dresses, fluid silk tops and skirts, and floral prints that were both lustworthy and modern. The designer is known for her expertise in leather, having honed her skills while studying at the Istanbul Fashion Academy, and continues to deliver elevated streetwear with a sexy edge.

Gigi and Bella Hadid have already been seen wearing Sebnem Gunay pieces, but the designer’s rebellious aesthetic also extends to her namesake line’s deconstructed suiting, PVC raincoats, and peek-a-book sheer pieces. The spirited-cool label is a must-have for the adventurous sophisticate.

Sebnem Gunay

Born in Belgium, Gunay studied Fashion Design and Technology Undergraduate Program Womenswear at Istanbul Moda Academy. Her eponymous label debuted in 2013 and reflects her fascination with sculptural approaches to feminine dressing. The designer is also an accomplished figurative painter who has exhibited in prestigious international art fairs such as FIAC and SCOPE.

Known for her voluminous sleeves and exquisite ruffling, Sansim Adali is considered to be one of Turkey’s most promising emerging fashion designers. Her designs exude a refined elegance, often with an underlying edgy sensibility.

Her Spring/Summer 2017 collection drew inspiration from Istanbul’s rich history and architecture. A black gown exuded regal elegance, with intricate tulle cascading from the neck to the calf in an hourglass silhouette, while bulgous sleeves bestowed ingenuity. Another standout look saw a silver mini with a slit neckline that accentuated the waist, embellished with ostrich feathers and silver beading.

Gulcin Cengel’s innate ability to adorn her frocks with ornamentation and ostrich feathers imbues them with an exquisite femininity. Gulcin’s eponymous label launched in 2013, and her dreamy gowns dominated the runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Istanbul. A whimsical lavender dress featured a one shoulder and ruched fine strokes on the bodice and sleeve. Silver beading and purple accents finished the lustrous gown.

Yagmur’s position as a top journalist has made him a target for government interference and pressure on editors and owners of media outlets to curb critical reporting or interfere with editorial decisions. According to Turkey’s Journalists’ Association, 898 journalists were fired or forced to resign in the first five months of 2016 alone. Many of them were prosecuted on charges related to the failed July coup and membership of FETO, the Gulen-linked terrorist organization.

In the past few years, police raided and shut down a number of private media groups that were critical of the government. Several of the founders and senior journalists of Cumhuriyet, including editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul, were arrested on terrorism and other “crimes against the state” charges, while others, such as Cumhuriyet cartoonist Musa Kart and columnist Kadri Gursel were jailed pending trial. Currently, 149 journalists and media workers are imprisoned in Turkey, most of them in pretrial detention.

Mehtap Elaidi

In the world of Turkish fashion, there are certain individuals who know from a young age what they want to do and never divert from their path. Mehtap Elaidi is one such individual. She is a designer, who launched her own label in April of 2000 with the belief that “a white shirt has its own force and immortality.” Today, her collection includes everything from dresses to coats and everything in between.

Mehtap is a rising talent who could become the next industry star. She has the ability to combine a traditional Turkish aesthetic with modern streetwear and creates collections that are both accessible to the average Istanbulite and appealing to discerning Western shoppers. Her label has quickly established itself as the go-to brand for women seeking something unique and different.

Modest fashion finally had its coming out party last week, with designers from around the world showcasing their designs at the first ever Istanbul Modest Fashion Week. Indonesian designer Irna La Perle wowed in bridal gowns that cover the body and hair, while Bahraini designer Samar Murad integrated Kufic-style Arabic calligraphy into her innovative designs.

With a new generation of politicians leading Turkey, there is hope that the country can emerge from its dark political era. Quietly spoken CHP candidate Imamoglu, who is running against longtime AKP leader Binali Yildirim, is attracting voters with his moderate views and grassroots campaigning. Despite having a small budget, his campaign has made a huge impact in the city, with large crowds gathering to hear him speak.

Taking pride in the fact that everyone deserves a good dress, Kayra puts quality fashion at the fingertips of the masses. The company’s mission is to provide modest clothing without compromising on style or design, and it aims to serve as a one-stop shop for the everyday woman. With a wide selection of styles and colors to choose from, Kayra has a piece to fit any occasion. From fuchsia for the beach to a light blue chiffon for an afternoon out, there is something to suit every taste.

Tuba Ergin

As the election day nears, Turkey faces a crucial test of democracy. A credible opposition could challenge President Erdogan’s re-election bid and the country’s hyper-centralized, dysfunctional governance system. To do so, it needs to organize a national organization to monitor ballots and prevent electoral fraud. It could be a long haul. But if the CHP’s Seydiu Imamoglu is successful, it may signal an end to more than a decade and a half of AKP dominance.

The octogenarian’s quiet demeanor and disciplined style have earned him widespread respect among voters. But his greatest contribution is his ability to build a coalition of secular and left-wing parties with a common agenda, despite their differences. It’s a coalition that has the potential to change Turkish politics, if the CHP manages to win the May 14 elections.

With more than 24 million inhabitants, Istanbul is the world’s fourth-largest city. In recent years, the population has surged by an average of 1.3 million per year. This growth has accelerated in recent months. It’s driven by migrants from the country’s conservative hinterland, as well as rising economic prosperity and urbanization.

A few renowned restaurants in the city have received one or more MICHELIN Stars, reflecting the high standards of local cuisine. For example, at Araka in Yenikoy, chef Zeynep Pinar Tasdemir offers a highly personal and audacious cuisine that showcases the best of the local harvest. Her dishes play with hot, sour and spicy flavors, as well as sweet. One of the most interesting is a flash-boiled octopus served with purslane-pickled green beans and apple vinaigrette, which has impressed the MICHELIN Guide inspectors. At Mikla in Beyolu, the cuisine revisits Anatolian traditions with a twist. Fresh products from the region feature on the menu, such as a cucumber gazpacho topped with grilled octopus and a grilled cheese sandwich with purslane-pickled vegetables. The restaurant also has a dedicated wine cellar. This is a must-visit venue for lovers of great local food.

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