Born and raised in the Aegean town of İzmir, Turkey, to a family of doctors, Bora Aksu trained at the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design and this year celebrated his 10th year participation in the London Fashion Week with a dazzling opening show sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey. While sitting and waiting for the show to commence, there was a noticeable level of enthusiasm and excitement amongst fashion-lovers. What is so fascinating is Aksu’s skill in putting together an incredible spectacle with his choice of music and fabrics, designs and emotions, cultural differences and a synthesis of Turkish culture and western tastes. Chiffon, silk tulles, hand woven textiles which he purchased from village women in Şirince and Nazarköy in Turkey adorns the light, tom-boyish outfits with splashes of hidden femininity and naivety.
The colour of Aksu’s designs is mischievous femininity while the evil eye bead is the concept of his spring/summer feast of wonderful designs and colour. As the Courtyard Show Space at Somerset House darkens, world renowned Turkish percussionist Burhan Öçal’s Tekirdağ Karşılaması/ Tekirdağ Welcome emanates from the speakers, unexpected and equally reminiscent of Aksu’s homeland. The evil eye bead is a talisman that absorbs the “evil gaze” of another and protects it’s wearer from coming to any harm. In certain Turkish circles it is believed that the deep blue, white and black, sprinkled with lemon yellow, “evil eye” bead cracks when it stops any harm from befalling its wearer. Pencil skirts, cropped jackets, blouses with integrated crochet work, sling backs with fine white cotton socks, dresses at knee height or one fold over all bring the long hot summers of our childhoods back into our minds. However, perhaps one of the most breath-taking aspects of the show is the manipulation of colour into emotion and lifestyle. Aksu says that the woman represented in this show, “is a woman who has been out and about in nature, who has caught a bit of sun; a joyous woman who has a cheerful life.”
Fuchsia, baby blues, sun yellow, shades of white, navy blue, almost transparent pockets, embroidered fabrics, crochet work… Even Aksu’s cocktail dresses and ball gowns have pockets to provide self-assurance and comfort to their adorners. Then Postcards from Italy by Beirut kicks in and we are transported to some coastal town in the Aegean or Meditteranean coasts of Turkey. The sea, the sun, the colourful family relationships, memories of long-lost childhood and a deep sinking feeling of nostalgia reminds us of the personal background of Aksu. All his designs within this collection are actually reminiscent of 1950s Turkey, the arrival of a new sense of modernity and freedom for women along with their interest in Westernisation. Come to think of it, comparing today’s freedoms for women with that of 60 years ago, one can mostly say that women in Turkey seem to be somewhat more oppressed today. Yet, Aksu’s attitude is positive; with his immaculate sense of taste he turns the table around for women around the world. Fashion after all is a way of life, so much so that mainstream fashion never becomes your style and Aksu’s woman reflects this in all her details.
London Fashion Week, 13 until 17 September. www.londonfashionweek.co.uk
Credits: Courtesy Bora Aksu. Photography Christopher Dadey