ISTANBUL — Even the most avid fashion follower probably won’t have heard of Erkan Coruh. But the winner of Turkey’s 2003 ITKIB Young Fashion Designer’s competition will no doubt stir the fashion conscience when he hits the international circuit next year at CPD in Düsseldorf with a show that forms part of his prize.
With a quirky collection called “Spoilsport” that played with the idea of tools, adorning the clothes with goggles, wrenches and keys for clockwork toys, the 27-year-old Turk managed to wow a jury made up of Turkey’s leading designers and foreign-based talent such as Dice Kayek’s Ece Ege and Atil Kutoglu, who shows in New York.
Using a simple palette of pale yellow, orange and white, accessorised with red slippers, Coruh ruched hems, turned jackets backwards, made a dress of seemingly random shapes of cloth, and teamed a pair of HotPants with an “intellectual” concept shirt. He managed to add enough interest to his competition collection of six outfits while keeping it basically wearable.
“The spoilsport in me has come out,” a close-to-tears Coruh told WWD. “I used to play with toys and now this showed how I played with clothes. I wanted to create a new idea of clothes.”
Coruh, along with the second- and third-prize winners, is now going to Milan next year for a one-year masters degree in fashion at Domus Academy. He also becomes one of a growing band of young Turkish designers with international aspirations.
“I believe Turks are creating their own school of very special designs — we have some very good designers ahead of us now,” said Coruh.
Dice Kayek’s Ece Ege agrees. “This is a very valuable competition,” she said after the show. “And it improves every year. For instance, I was very pleased to see that this year the clothes are more wearable. They are not doing silly things with balloons and stuff to catch someone’s eye.”
The competition aims at fostering design talent that will help make Turkey a country of strong brands rather than inexpensive, mass-market products. So far, it has produced some strong names — Unal, Kaprol and Hakan Yildirim, whose design businesses are growing and expanding abroad, are among past contestants. In a touch of closure, this year the prize for the first competition in 1992 was given to Bahar Korcan, a working designer who had been unable to collect the trophy initially because she had been too ill.
“It’s important that you are also able to design what you use,” said Suleyman Orakcuoglu, head of the Istanbul textile export body, ITKIB, which sponsors the event. “This is no longer a dream for us. If you have any doubt, watch the young people on the stage — they are our future.”
The finalists for the 12th annual young designers awards demonstrated how far Turkey is progressing in the world of fashion design. With Turkish designers such as Arzu Kaprol, Ozlem Suer, Evrim Timur and Umit Unal now regularly showing at CPD in Düsseldorf, foreign buyers are realizing there is more to the country’s fashions than cheap, mass-market productions or interesting items picked up at markets.
Many of the competitors appeared to owe much to Hussein Chalayan, the London-based Turkish Cypriot who has twice won the British Designer of the Year award and who now shows his highly conceptual designs in Paris. The Chalayan influence could be seen among the young designers in deconstruction, texturing, unusual cuts and silhouettes.
The second-place collection, “Discovery” by Mehtap Yilmaz, had sculptured, asymmetric skirts puffed out irregularly — at hip level on one side and at the knee on the other — with cutout circles displaying different textures. Dresses and tops, all in gray or white, each had a shoulder exposed. A single gray one-shouldered wool top lent a rougher edge. Extensively seamed and firmly shaped, it sported a shredded, asymmetric hemline, in keeping with the skirts and dresses. Even the way the models stood, feet flat, hands by sides, with an open stance, was reminiscent of a Chalayan show.
Dice Kayek’s Ege is not surprised: “It’s perfectly natural. They all have their idols and he’s very successful as well as being a designer supported by ITKIB. They’ll develop more on their own later on.”
FIT TEAMS WITH TURKEY: The Fashion Institute of Technology has played integral roles in the establishment of several colleges outside the U.S. that offer similar curriculum to FIT in countries such as China, India, Italy and Israel. To further its international alliances, FIT will establish two joint-degree programs — in fashion design and textile development and marketing — with Turkey’s Istanbul Technician University. FIT president Joyce Brown and ITU rector Gülsün Saglamer will sign the agreement at FIT Tuesday. Students in the programs will be required to study at both campuses and will receive one degree recognized by both schools.