Atil Kutoglu Talks Turkey This Week

Published February 6, 2012

Tomorrow marks the opening day of Istanbul Fashion Week, the day before New York starts its own. Undoubtedly, most of the fashion glitterati will have their eyes firmly fixated on the runways of Lincoln Center, but for Turkey-born, Vienna-based Atil Kutoglu, who showed his collection in the Big Apple for nearly nine years, it’s now all about Istanbul.

When it comes to fashion designers of Turkish descent, Kutoglu is as internationally established as they come. In addition to raves in Elle and WWD, Kutoglu was, in 1999, invited by Turkey’s First Lady Berna Yilmaz to stage a fashion show at Istanbul’s renowned Yildiz Palace, in celebration of the 700th anniversary of the Ottoman Empire’s founding. In 2000, at the restrospective for Gustav Klimt in Vienna’s Belvedere Palace, Kutoglu’s designs were on display next to Klimt’s paintings.

“I think Istanbul is becoming so exciting and hip day by day and could be the next amazing fashion capital,” Kutoglu explains of his return to the city. In his work, Kutoglu is known for consistently referencing Turkey through mystical patterns and using luxe, glossy fabrics on his perfectly draped harem pants, beachy tunics, and glamorous, glistening dresses; and the brand became a hit with high-society ladies and Euro celebrities looking for gala-ready gowns.

For his upcoming collection, which lands on the catwalk tomorrow evening, Kutoglu will still refer to historical Turkey with nods to the Seljuck era, but inspirations will also include cubism, modern art and bombshell Brigitte Bardot. “It might sound too complicated, but it is a rather straightforward collection,” Kutoglu adds. “I find it old-fashioned to dedicate a collection to one theme.” So with a range of themes to work with, Kutoglu’s Autum/Winter 2012 line is set to be comprised of rigid lines punctuated with that iconic Bardot sex appeal: Leather and silk pieces are slimly tailored with emphasis on shoulders, while sleek jumpsuits are rendered with skin-baring open backs. And that ethnic touch? Swarovski crystals take care of Seljuck-inspired ornamentations and embroideries. “It’s very me,” says the designer.