Turkish designer Dilara Findikoglu is a rebel with a cause.

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Turkish designer Dilara Findikoglu is on quest to promote equality, whether it be between genders or promoting students’ work in a graduate show, she aspires for her work to be understood. Embroidering everything from female genitalia onto trousers to adhering found objects onto blazers, Findikoglu designs for the female body and isn’t afraid to break a few rules in the process.

When Findikoglu, a Central Saint Martins’ graduate, wasn’t one of the selected for the exclusive CSM Press Show, that didn’t stop her. She led Encore CSM, a show which created an equal opportunity for everyone. Due to this undeterred attitude — which she partially accredits to John Galliano and her time working with him on his first Haute Couture collection for Margiela, her future in fashion looked brighter.

We meet the rebellious Findikoglu whose designs reflect her desire to move against the grain of the ordinary and make her mark on the fashion world.

Can you tell me more about your childhood?

I was born in Istanbul, Turkey to a family with traditional values, which forced me to discover artistic subjects on my own. There was always a pull between living a traditional life or pursuing an artistic career. I had to find my place in all of it.

You use Turkish traditional techniques in your designs. What motivated you to use them?

The Turkish embroidery and carpeting I use is all an interpretation of the sights and sounds of my country. These techniques came naturally as they were a big part of the everyday environment as I was growing up in Istanbul. As I grow up, I learn different cultures, arts, music, traditions but I would still like to find a way to combine them with my ethnic background. I feel like nowadays Turkish designers don’t look back enough to these rich traditions, and they become lost trying to adhere to western aesthetic. Everyone should all celebrate the richness of their own culture so they don’t become copies of other peoples work.

SS16 featured ovaries embroidered in the front of trousers. What was the story behind this collection?

Ideally, I’d prefer this output to be called a capsule collection, it was created 2 months after my graduation. The story behind it was the change of roles between men and women. I take it all the way back to Adam and Eve. There was a twist – I gave the apple to Adam making him the first sinner. In that sense I portrayed woman as the stronger player in the game. Visually, this represented male groupies running after female rockstars. In this world I create, women are the bosses in pinstripe suits and men run after them.

You feature a lot corsets and latex bras in your designs. Can you tell me more about your views on female sexuality?

I support equality rather than any gender dominating the other. The importance of religion in my background has pushed me to support the female form and show that our body is not a threat nor a provocation. I’m totally against the idea of covering the female body so some pervert men don’t get seduced by it.

You weren’t selected for the CSM Press Show and led Encore CSM. What were your intentions for Encore CSM?

My intention was to bring equality to the graduates. I thought our worked deserved to be seen by the outside [world] after a year of very intense work. It is not fair to bring fashion elitism into the game this early on in our careers. That is not the way to teach young brains about the real world and expect them to achieve a successful future.

Your Graduate show and actions were a bit rebellious, tell us more about your own individual presentation?

My will to fight for ideals comes from my father. Where I see unfairness I try to bring positivity. I find it stimulating to bring out subjects that are uncomfortable in fashion. I want to break the rules and show what is not necessarily pretty. People like to be quiet about most things but I would like to save the world by breaking the old rules.

Can you tell me more about any work experience you have and what designers you have assisted prior to launching your label?

I worked for Mary Katrantzou, Jeremy Scott, Yazbukey and Margiela throughout my studies. I had the opportunity to work with John Galliano on his first couture collection for Margiela, it was very exciting and magical as anyone can imagine. Working with such a light hearted genius gave me hope about my future. Fashion world can be unfair, bitchy and tough, but it’s in our hand to choose which path to go.

Do you design for yourself or who do you have in mind?

I don’t really consider myself as a fashionable fashion designer therefore I don’t look at my work as clothes. When you don’t design clothes how can you think of a person to design for?

I know you don’t want to be recognised for one thing, or categorised, but what do you think your signature will become? Isn’t it important to have one that is recognisably yours?

I think people who don’t belong to a certain group or are not labeled as one thing are always the ones who leave more marks in this world.

Where do you source your inspiration, and who and what is inspiring you right now?

I generally look at religion, social issues, mysterious inventions, parapsychology, music, philosophy in my work. I like a mythical story, a shocking event or anything extraordinary. In my work there is a use of old objects that are repurposed and are given a modern perspective. I use unexpected curious materials like chemically preserved flowers, ancient symbology, crafts that belong to my personal background. I would like to think that my work is a part of me so it consists of the same elements of my identity and character.

To name a few my favorite names: Eric Von Daniken, Georges Batailles, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Marlene Dietrich, Black Sabbath, Josephine Baker, Oskar Schlemmer, Joan Jett, and Baris Manco

What would you like to achieve in future collections and for the future of your brand?

First of all I would like to be understood. I would like people to see them as a balance of ideas and visual. I would like to leave un-erasable memories in peoples minds and lives. It would be great to propose my brand on a mixed media level so I present it as a whole story rather than only garments.

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Words: Janine Leah Bartels


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