Istanbul Fashion Week has come to an end. For a new fashion week (this is only their third season), Istanbul put on quite a show, capping off the week with supermodel Alessandro Ambrosio, who flew in the night before to walk in the Koton swimwear show. Istanbul is home to around 15 million people. It's a vibrant, chaotic and beautiful place, and I quickly learned that getting around is not as simple as hopping on the tram, or jumping in a cab and giving your driver a street address. Directions are much more vague in Istanbul--ancient mosques, old stone doors, and even "down around the hill" are markers. So it was merely a reflection of the city, that the scene at the Taskisla Building at Istanbtul Techinical University, the venue for Istanbul Fashion Week, was a bit chaotic and difficult to navigate as well. But in spite of the chaos, or because of it, Istanbul Fashion Week was a blast. The shows were inventive, and the designers put out inspired collections. A big thank you to ELLE Turkey and itkib Istanbul for hosting me. I could write for days about everything I saw--both at Istanbul Fashion Week and the sites I explored in the city itself. But I won't. Here's the best of the rest:
ISTANBUL--When most designers present their collections they put their clothes on models and send them down a runway. But Özlem Süer's SS 2011 show (a performance, really) bucked against convention. The show was on a small islet in the Bosphorus where the Maiden's Tower, an old light house dating back to 408 BC, sits. Once there, I felt transported, and not just because I was physically transported to an island in the middle of the Bosphorus for a fashion show. From the minute we stepped onto the boats that would bring us to the Maiden's Tower, we were in Özlem Süer fashion "dream land" where she invited attendees to become "heros" in her story. The experience was pure fantasy: there were mimes, winged creatures, and models dressed like Marie Antoinette on stilts. My journey to Süer's "dream land," broken down:
ISTANBUL--Istanbul Fashion Week may be new, but it's not lacking for bold faced names in the front row. Pat Field is a fixture, which makes sense, since Istanbul Fashion Week's press kit says she "aims to introduce the Turkish brands and designers to the world and to turn Istanbul into an effective fashion center." It's a tall order, but if anyone can make Istanbul happen, it's Pat Field. The vibrant colors and energy of Istanbul are right up her alley. In addition to Field, fashion stars abound. Anna Piaggi is here, and she gets a deserved applause when she enters the venue. So is ELLE's Kate Lanphear, Lynn Yaeger, Alexandra Richards and Olivier Zahm (with daughter in tow). Alek Wek has also been spotted. And according to twitter, LOVE covergirl Alessandra Ambrosio just touched down at Ataturk Airport hours ago, where she was surprised to find paps waiting for her at immigration. We're looking forward to seeing her walk tomorrow.
This week hundreds of international press descended upon Istanbul to cover Istanbul Fashion Week. IFW is not New York or Paris or Milan or London, and the shows are a bit disorganized (to say the least). Many fashion-y feathers have been ruffled. Who was so peeved by his/her lack of a front row seat he/she scoffed at an organizer, "If this is the way you treat international press, you'll get nowhere"?
ISTANBUL--Istanbul's Grand Bazaar is the mother of all bazaars. It's one of the oldest covered bazaars in the world (it opened in 1461), and according to my taxi driver, contains over 3,000 shops. Undeterred by the scope and size (and between fashion shows), I set out to shop. You can find almost anything within the confines of the bazaar. Beyond the killims--the hand woven carpets Turkey is known for--I was surprised to see stalls upon stalls of designer knock offs mixed in with the vintage jewelry, vibrant textiles, and copper Aladdin-style lamps. Some fakes were better than others. The Luis Vuitton bags with labels that read "From Louis Vuitton Printemps/Ete 2010 Collections as shown in Paris" were not so good. Neither were these label-whore-y sheets (I'm just waiting to see them on an episode of Cribs). The Mulberry Alexa and Fendi Peek-a-Boo knock offs were much more impressive. But after you've sifted through the fakes, and decided you want to make a purchase, ready your game face.
ISTANBUL--After some of the wacky fashions we saw from Istanbul's student designers, it was nice to see something really pretty and wearable go down the runway last night. Bora Aksu, who previously showed in London, wrapped up yesterday's shows with a bow. And heels laced up like toe shoes. Aksu was clearly inspired by the ballet.
ISTANBUL--Really. I'm here in gorgeous Istanbul covering Istanbul Fashion Week, which kicked off last night. Hard as it was to stay awake for the first show after a ten hour flight and no sleep, the designs at the KOZA student show held my attention rapt. More on that in a second. First, a bit about the venue. Istanbul Fashion Week is housed in the Taskisla Technical University, a gorgeous old stone building with a huge courtyard, which was all strung up with lights for last night's event. To get to the show venue, however, is a bit of a maze. Attendees wind down stone stairs and through tunnels covered in red velvet, before arriving at the space which looks like, well, most any old runway venue, only shorter.