“I always go for sexy!” says Turkish designer Hakan Yildirim. Apparently he isn’t alone. Three seasons ago, the 39-year-old Yildirim wowed the likes of Carine Roitfeld and Kate Moss when he debuted his first collection of bombshell frocks on an army of supermodels under the name Hakaan at London Fashion Week. Yildirim’s flouncy fur vests, feather embellishments, and cutout detail dresses won him the 2010 ANDAM award, a prize that lifted him out of London’s quirky pack of rising talents and thrust him into the epicenter via a slot at Paris Fashion Week. “It was a huge surprise, but I had always dreamed of becoming an international designer,” he admits.
Of course, Yildirim did have a bit of help from his friend and label creative director, photographer Mert Alas. “Mert saw my excitement and gave me the courage to take the next step. He always wants me to be better, and his support gives me the push I need.”
While Yildirim may be new to the mainstream catwalk, he has crafted custom couture gowns in his native Turkey for almost a decade. Born and bred in Istanbul, he grew up surrounded by sisters, and his fascination with fabrics and textures started early in his youth. Nevertheless, Yildirim, who is now settled in London, claims that his Turkish heritage has little to do with his current aesthetic. “There’s no hint in my work that I’m Turkish,” he says. “I always wanted to live in London because it’s this crazy place that’s open to upcoming designers. It’s a dream to be here.”
For fall, Yildirim has retained his signature sex appeal with a series of geometric mini-dresses, sheer tops, and open-paneled jumpsuits. But he pushes his look to the next level through oversized, architectural suiting, masculine tailoring, and razor-sharp lines. “I wanted to spice things up a bit,” he says. “But I never like to show too much skin. I keep the sexiness balanced with strong shapes and new textures.” Queue the low-slung gray wool pantsuits and roomy overcoats, each of which recalls the Glamazon power suits of the late ’80s and early ’90s. “There’s not a minute to rest,” confesses Yildirim, who makes a point of designing for strong women. “I just want to improve my brand. But next season will be full of new things. Get ready to be surprised.”