Why This Turkish Fashion Designer Chose A Synagogue For Her Runway Backdrop


This Istanbul synagogue is named after the “bangs of a bride’s hair”: “Zulf-u arus”, a classic Ottoman Turkish turn of phrase, combining both Persian and Arabic words. It’s a fitting name, perhaps, for the building of a former synagogue that was chosen to serve as the stage for a fashion show as part of Istanbul Fashion Week.

Officially, it is called the Galata Sacred Synagogue, and from to , it was the site of a museum dedicated to the history of Turkish Jewry.

For her show at Istanbul Fashion Week in March, designer Asli Filinta chose the Zulfaris sanctuary to be the setting for her latest collection’s debut — a collection that embraces Turkey’s multicultural heritage.

At the show, models walked ahead of the synagogue’s empty Torah ark in sheer dresses and veils, draped in embroidered lace. The electro-acoustic duo “Insanlar” meaning, “humans”, buzzed with the psychedelic sound of Anatolian fusion as the baglama saz followed a rhythmic trance. In front of gilded columns of marble and the carved wood of the ark, the gathering evoked a poignant air. In , Zulfaris was the toast of the town, renovated by the Sephardic Camondo family, now a fine art gallery and hotel.

Although her presentation of some unique ensembles received glowing praise from Vogue US, which called her “ebullient” and the “name to know” — Filinta perhaps most proudly recalls the response of her Turkish Jewish friends. “After my presentation at Zulfaris, my Jewish friends came and thanked me for introducing them to this beautiful, historic place with a modern touch,” she said. “They had never been there and were so amazed.”

Turkey’s Jewish history is part of a larger story of cultural extinction, which includes many endangered cultural minorities in Anatolia. In , when Ataturk founded the Turkish Republic, there were nearly , Jews in Istanbul. But between and after the founding of Israel, as many as , Jews left Turkey, despite it being the first Muslim majority nation to recognize Israel’s independence. Turkey is now home to about , Jews.

Filinta’s work is partly descendant of an ancient Jewish trade in Turkey — garments and textiles were the source of intercultural trade for Jews since the rd century B.C., evidenced by the ruins of Sardis Synagogue, a Romaniote house of worship discovered in Turkey’s Manisa province in by Harvard archaeologists.

“My father was in textiles,” she said. “I am hoping for a modern interpretation of Orientalism with my unique prints.” Her designs draw from exhaustive scholarship to rejuvenate Ottoman-era fashion, including that of Jews.

Filinta hails from Adana, a landlocked city in Turkey’s southeast famous for searing skies only outmatched by the heat of its peppers and the temper of its locals. The radiant corner of the Mediterranean stimulated her absorption in bright colors and interlaced bloodlines. In , she started her own label, AsliFilinta, after dropping out of Parsons School of Design in New York. By then she had earned an economics degree from Bilkent University in Ankara, and worked in finance.

Her atelier in Istanbul is off-the-beaten-path, behind a nondescript storefront surrounded by grease monkeys and street food. But inside, it is stocked with her prolific output, as each rack tells countless tales from idea to sale, with fresh approaches to upcycle sustainability.

“My upcycle approach started with me having a baby. That’s when you start thinking about how to be more useful to the world,” she said. “Textiles and fashion are the second most destructive industry. We can’t expect consumers to take all the responsibility to act sustainably.”

Upstairs, above a ground floor of th century antiques covered and stacked with books detailing her collections and studies, Filinta walked beside her cutting table, and playfully put on one of her beflowered and sequined fezzes like an Ottoman woman at a private soirée. She displays vintage kilims from the Anatolian cities of Ushak and Bergama beside tiles and vases from the Iznik Foundation, pairing them with contemporary ceramics of Alev Ebuzziya.

“I didn’t debut my latest collection in the former building of Zulfaris Synagogue as a bold statement but to complete my story,” she says. “My fashion designs are a way of expressing that no one is better, no one is weaker, no one is stronger. During the same period, people came together to build up the society of the Ottoman times.”

She conveys her ecological, humanist philosophy through clothing design by embracing the spectrum of community life in Turkey, sourcing her fabrics exclusively from Anatolia, such as “kutnu” silk, a staple Ottoman textile. “Kutnu” is a woven silk from Gaziantep, a city east of Adana famed for its culinary palate. It is often dyed in violet, black and crimson with folk patterns knit in the “tel kirma” technique. Her research often pivots around the apex of Ottoman economic and political power in the th century, when sultans set trends still copied by Turkey’s orthodox religionists, like weaving metallic gold and silver threads into silk textiles to make expensive robes and kaftans. Filinta mixes and matches the pragmatics of production with traditional design. Among her inventions are reversible kaftans, sustainable one-size-fits-all dresses, a hoodie that doubles as a hijab, and a gilt-thread embroidered silk velvet dress that she sewed by hand. Her metallic threads are designed in-house, and produced only for her company, AsliFilinta. Her mosaic-like naturalistic prints, also designed in-house, are steeped in the visual motifs of the the antique Ottoman aesthetic.

Source: togel online via pulsa