it’s always like a Movie scene: Finding the characters, Finding the stories, and then, aFter that, trying to dress the characters.Umit Benan
“The clothes come last,” says 32-year-old designer Umit Benan.“It’s always like a movie scene: finding the characters, finding the stories, and then, after that, trying to dress the characters. It’s not about fashion; it’s more about the story.” Benan’s own story— much of which can be read through the dates, faces, and symbols on his heavily tattooed arms—begins in Germany, where he was born to Turkish parents. He moved to Istanbul two years later, then to boarding school in Switzerland. He went to college at Emerson in Boston, then to Central Saint Martins in London, and Parsons in New York. He landed at Marc Jacobs in 2005, followed by Pollini in Milan and Cacharel in Paris. But his career spiked in 2009, when he presented his first menswear collection in Milan. Benan has a knack for messing with traditional menswear styles, not so much in the cuts of his relaxed silhou- ette, but in his idiosyncratic color palette, unexpected materials, and wild imagination: e.g., a greatcoat that could have been worn by one of Stalin’s generals is reimagined with nylon sleeves. Finding inspiration in opposing forces goes back to Benan’s upbringing in Istanbul, where “you have the rich blond girls with tits out and the woman walking down the street next to her all covered,” he says. In 2011, Benan was named the fashion consultant (read: designer) at Trussardi, but he is also looking to bring his own brand to the next level. He wants bigger budgets to augment his story—not that it could ever be limited to just fashion. “I’ll never do this for the rest of my life and be happy with it,” he says. “I’ll always need more, which is good and bad.” He talks about trying photography, directing an ad campaign, even doing costume or making films. “But not, like, I work in fashion and then start shooting movies,” he explains. “I’d like to go back to school and start from scratch. Because that’s how I did fashion.”
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