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ISTANBUL — Mehmet Isik’s shimmering white layered “puppets” won the Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters’ Association’s (ITKIB) Young Fashion Designer Competition, which this year saw an unusual male clean sweep of the top three prizes.

Put together with wooden hinges, buttons and rope, Isik’s voluminous designs — exploring the given theme of “movement” through the manipulation of puppets — got the thumbs up from a jury that included Hussein Chalayan, Atil Kutoglu and Ece Ege of Dice Kayek. ITKIB’s Suleyman Orakcioglu described the three judging designers as the “national team” of Turkish fashion.

“I used white to show the lifelessness of puppets,” said Isik, who had not expected to win. He said he wanted to “reflect the inner world of puppets.” Fashioning silk, linen and thick cotton fabric into a harmonious series of mainly skirted outfits, Isik used Poiret-like high necks and ballooning sleeves to help illustrate the title, employing flares and gathers — a minidress tiered below the bust and at the hips, for instance, or a Fifties-style skirt flowing from a cinched waist — to bring a fluid movement to the implied awkwardness of his subjects.

“It’s very clever — such a simple yet detailed way to dress a puppet,” said jury member and leading Turkish designer Hakan Yildirim, whose style influence was evident in this year’s finalists. “Look, the design even has hinges incorporated to connect the separate parts of a puppet.”

Deniz Demirsoy won second prize with a simple black-and-white collection called “Istanbul,” constituting narrow-cut skirts and trousers given interest through draping and enormous collars, and punctuated by puffball-influenced tulle skirts. Suat Tutar’s loose, pleated men’s wear designs, topped with suspenders and flat caps and called “Cinderella Man,” completed the prize-winning trio.

Chalayan, the Cyprus-born designer and two-time British Designer of the Year, has been increasingly involved with Turkish fashion in recent years, and he praised the standards of the competitors.

“The quality is really high and improving all the time,” said Chalayan, who added that he had voted for the top three, in that order.

Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen, who presented the first prize — $10,000, a year’s fashion study abroad and a spot at the CPD fair in Düsseldorf — said aspiring fashion designers would get a boost in September with the opening of a fashion institute in Istanbul. “Our young designer friends are working in difficult conditions as they try to compete on the international scene,” he said. “But if you look at our activities in New York, Paris and Moscow, you can see how successful we are.”

This story first appeared in the July 11, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The young designers’ event now has a sister competition — a textile equivalent sponsored by an ITKIB member, the Istanbul Textile and Raw Materials Exporters Union (ITHIB).

The second edition was won by Gulsah Inan, a second-year student at Marmara University, whose prize includes the chance to take part in the London and New York Turkish Fashion Fabric exhibitions, which rank high among the activities alluded to by Tuzmen. 

Second-place Firat Neziroglu and third-place Arzu Genc will be joining her. Inan’s collection of double-layered loose weaves whose geometric patterns alter as the garment moves was true to its title of “Optical Illusion”; one sheer polyamide’s black stripes in turn highlighted and hid large spots. It was also the most modern-looking collection to parade before the 16 Turkish and international judges, who were a little disappointed that some of the entrants had gone for the ethnic kaftan and kilim look without much apparent thought for the feel and drape of the cloth.

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