With an eye for international royalty and a coat of arms adorned with cultural prestige, Turkish debutante Dilek Hanif is handing socialites and fashionistas tailored formal wear and haute couture of sword-cut quality. Racked with global respect, Ms. Hanif graces her golds, laces and curvaceous garments of intricate embroideries between Istanbul, Paris, and Milan where her native patterns of East and West heritage fill hard-earned showrooms.
On the move with both ready-to-wear and couture collections, the designer has trumped runway status after her line debut and success in 2002, earning her Avon’s “Most Successful Female Designer” and later in 2004, Oriflame’s “Most Accomplished Woman of the Year” award. After support with the Ralph Lauren event, Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, she claimed the Association of Alternative Development award and went on later that year to earn the Beykent University award for Outstanding Communications. As the first female Turkish designer to enter the Paris Fashion Week (2004), she has further paved the way for her native creatives, illuminating modern Turkey alongside acclaimed couturiers Dice Kayek, Erdem Moralioglu, Bora Aksu, and Rifat Ozbek.
The list goes on, but the real award is that of global fashion success. With a flawless concentration on the cultural and inherent traits of a country in constant upheaval, Dilek Hanif grips the core of a modern Turkey and polishes the riches of indigenous value with her creativity and talent for the fitting the female form. For the debonaire, and a woman of astute design, Ms. Hanif is on a mission to massage the world of cultural differences and coalesce innovation and tradition through her visual decor.
While an overwhelming number of Spring/Summer 2012 collections parade into the fashion scene, there are a few more winter noteworthies that ought not be overlooked. Racing to welcome future pieces as winter is upon us, the season still holds a number of exquisite festivities for calling upon a warmer wardrobe. One particular designer pipes up bringing Haute Couture into conversations among new cultures as a modern Turkey steps onto the planks.
(exerpt taken from my post at Catwalk Yourself //photography courtesy of Dilek Hanif ©2011)
(more on Dilek Hanif www.catwalkyourself.com) Interview with Dilek HanifAG: With an emphasis on Turkish design, what are some trademark elements that shine through in your collections, representative of Turkish culture?
DH: First of all embroideries. I use very often Ottoman style patterns for the embroderies of my creations, and all my clients seems to really appreciate this. On some occasions I also use traditional hand-woven Turkish style fabrics.
AG: Your collections have made many marks among Parisians and Italians. What are some cultural similarities between Turkish fashion crowds and those of European fashion crowds?
DH: I think fashion nowadays is quite universal. There are less and less differences among French or English or Turkish or Italian fashion. To me, the Turkish fashion crowd is not at all different from any European fashion crowd. I am happy that, over the seasons, at a constant pace, my designs are getting recognized and appreciated also by European fashion consumers.
AG: What are some significant differences between what might be known as “middle eastern” high-brow fashion versus European couture?
DH: Usually women from the Middle East appreciate more glamorous and sumptuous styles, whereas European women tend to be more minimalist.
AG: With both Ready-To-Wear collections and Couture Collections, on which collections do you enjoy spending more of your time, and which avenue of design do you feel has the most influence on the fashion world today (couture vs. ready-to-wear)?
DH: Due to my way of working, I enjoy more working on my couture collections, where I can better express my creativity designing new styles with less boundaries or limits, free. Couture is a designer’s artwork, so it is special for me, more interesting and challenging. Also, RTW offers its owns challenges and interesting sides. it is also great to work on it and at the end to be able to reach to a bigger crowd. I think RTW has more influence on the fashion world today because of its capacity to reach a wider audience and as it closer to people’s daily life. I would never say couture is against RTW or vice versa; they are simply different, we can’t compare them, it would be wrong. Both of them have their influence on fashion in different ways.
AG: Who are some of your fashion icons and designer inspirations?
DH: I can’t say I have fashion icons. There are many designers I like and respect or was influenced by when I was a teenager, like Coco Chanel. There is noone I always like, but I may like different collections of some designers from different seasons. There are also designers whose style I don’t personally like, but respect them professionally, personally, artistically…
AG: When you begin designing a collection, is there an audience, or a particular muse you have in mind?
DH: I am interested in many things at the same time. when I design I multitask. I think of many things at the same time, or can be influenced by people, things, books, even by a word…, but I never have a single muse.
AG: What are some of the greatest challenges you face as a fashion designer today, And how has being from Turkey been an advantage, and/or a challenge?
DH: To present a couture collection in Paris as a Turkish designer was not easy at all at first the and it’s still quite difficult, but I’m sure it will become and easier task shortly. The challenges I face as a fashion designer are probably the same of many other designers from all over the world: being successful both artistically and professionally is a very hard work, it demands devotion, patience and resistance. We , as fashion designers, have to be artists and business people at the same time, able to catch up with every day life and real people needs and expectations. Our work is our life. The most difficult goal to achieve is to be understood by people, to make them believe in you and appreciate what you create.
AG: When you look at your clients and the women who you desire to dress, is there a consistent trend in pieces you sell? Perhaps you feel certain styles or pieces of your collection are more popular than others?
DH: Definitely kaftans and kaftan style dresses and jackets, as well as embroideries are very much appreciated by my clients.
AG: Your favorite piece you have designed so far and why?
DH: There are pieces I favor in every collection, it’s too hard to choose a one single item. In any case, I could say my 2004 summer couture collection, with which I debuted on Paris Haute Couture catwalks, is particularly special to me.
AG: Who and what were some of your driving forces growing up as a child, and how did you mold your career as a fashion designer?
DH: My mom worked in the fashion business. I grew up close to dresses and fabrics since I was a little kid, that’s probably why I have no memory of wanting to be someone different in my life, or doing another job. I always wanted to be in fashion and that’s what I did after my studies.