Dilara Findikoglu

Interview by
Grace Joel

Photography: Benjamin Tietge
Fashion: Grace Joel
Hair: Sarah Jo Palmer
Makeup: Siobhan furlong
Model: Ella Wennstrom at Next

With her transgressive couture pieces, which she has shown in a church and at the protest show she initiated outside Central St Martins, her clothes have plenty to say. We meet trailblazing London designer Dilara Findikoglu.

Can you tell us about your label and your intentions with it?

The state in which fashion is at the moment unsettles me, and puts me off from what i'm doing. The demands of consumerism waste the possibilities of experimenting with design, intellectuality, value. I want my work to be an attempt to modify the system. I would like to back my work with intelligent thinking and important ideas in order to matter in the bigger picture.

You have incredible couture pieces, how did you hone your techniques?

Since I started studying fashion design the handcrafted elements were crucial to my work. This aspect is very rooted in Turkish traditional techniques that I brought in to mix old with new ideas. As a result my work gained more detailed and interesting looks rather than flat pieces of fabrics. Even though comfort is important in clothing, I wouldn't like my work to be described only as clothes.

Lots of designers are reverting to hand techniques, craft and couture processes, as a reaction to the pace of fashion. Do you see this happening more so in the future?

As I have always mentioned in most of my conversations there needs to be statement change in fashion. Mass production and fast fashion are a distinct world that moves very quickly and responds to consumers demands. Fashion should be put in another perspective. It should be made to last and be appreciated in the future. It should be put in a similar category to art.

You can see a lot of Turkish influences in your work - from the carpets and textiles, subversively recontextualised. How has your background influenced your work?

My upbringing in a Middle Eastern country and it's environment gifted me with peculiar politics, traditions and religion. So I like to combine what I have learned there with what I'm observing here everyday. My roots feed me everyday but i'm still a London based, Central Saint Martins graduate.

You have referenced controversial topics in your work from the occult, Islam, fetishism, East vs West and combined them in such a new and interesting way. Can you tell us more about this?

I never wanted to described as one thing. So I would hate it if any of my collections were labelled as '50s' or 'futuristic' or anything too literal. I like blending in all types and sources of inspiration into a big pan of ideas. Yeah, you could see hints of fetishism, there is religion and there is rock but when it all comes together it becomes one single thing you can't define. Our generation is lucky to be able to use any era, any tradition, any culture, any movement in their work. I guess that's why mixed media represents the future.

You spearheaded the very successful ENCORE CSM which brought light to so many talented and under exposed designers, tell us how this came about?

Encore CSM was a success due to the motivation we had to fight against an old fashioned idea of selection and elitism. There are lots of politics going on behind closed doors and it's such a shame for an art school. They treat us unfairly at a young age and expect us to be successful. I don't think that's how you teach younger generations to be stronger. The results we got after it were incredible and hopefully in the future it will contribute to taking equality in the education system much further. I guess that is my biggest aim in life; making changes.

There seems to be a new generation of exciting burgeoning creatives coming out of Turkey embracing the culture and being recognised internationally- Istancool, Near East Magazine etc. Can you tell us some cool things coming out of Turkey?

Even though my background is quite present in my work I want to stay away from it as an independent creative individual rather than a representation of a country's youth. Everyone should be judged on an equal level. in 2015, we are all citizens of the world.

Have you always been subversive? How did you get into fashion?

I don’t really remember listening to anyone in my family on my journey to study in London or deciding my future. So that's why is till would like to listen myself, appreciating and respecting other people is important but at the end of the day you're on your own. I always give the same advice to younger generations at CSM that “you are your best helper”. If something is not given you on a plate fight for it and get it. That's what I’ve learnt from my experiences. I have never seen a needy leader.

Photography: Johanna Nyholm