Designer fashion in Turkey emerged from the well-developed tailoring culture that goes back to the Ottoman times. In Turkey unlike in the Netherlands people dress to impress. Elaborate gowns and hefty jewellery are worn not only at weddings but on many other occasions. Local socialites, showbiz stars, ladies who lunch, wives of politicians and the like traditionally patronise a couturier designer.
This type of designer usually has an atelier with five –six seamstresses, highly skilled; stocks own fabric and makes gowns/ outfits to order. Normally it would be a stunning creation in most opulent fabric replete with beading, embroidery, Swarovski stones, heavy on detail, a tad theatrical...
The “less is more” aesthetic has never taken root in these quarters.
Erol Albayarak and his eponymous label is an example of the old school Turkish couturier designer. Among his clients Madame Topbas, the wife of Istanbul mayor, Bulent Ersoy, popular singer of classical Turkish music, bigger than life transvestite Diva, and colourful Istanbul socialites. His big break came with the Selamlik collection, a tribute to the Ottoman’s menswear, presented in a grand show production featuring over 70 male models swathed in luxurious fabrics. The production was funded by the Prince Claus Foundation. Erol Albayrak has had considerable exposure in the Netherlands through various cultural projects, mainly fashion shows.