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East Meets West at Dice Kayek

Crossing Islamic traditions with Western ideals, the S/S 10 collection blended diverse cultures

“Istanbul is a city of contrasts, where centuries of Islamic tradition meet Western modernity. Some women, for example, wear chadors; others wear tight designer jeans” says Ece Ege, half of Turkish designer sister duo Dice Kayek. The city, a cross between occidental and oriental culture, and its many paradoxes, is the leading theme for their latest collection of cocktail dresses.

Rather than a catwalk, the clothes are set up like an exhibition of antiques. Held at the dimmed Ritz Bar, every dress is placed on a mannequin and is individually lit. In the back, images of the city mounted onto boards are scattered around the room: indeed, every garment is a direct reference to a specific monument. For example, a lace, intricately embroided dress is reminiscent of the winter gardens of Dolma Bahce palace; oversized, bejeweled detailing on a little black dress is reminiscent of the opulent palace of Topkapi.

“Have a look at that”, says Ece, as she grabs one of the images. It is a photograph the peak of a byzantine tower poking out between two modern towers, “this is what the city is about, old and new, all contrasts are present in there.”

And this is indeed the best way to describe the collection. A cross between Alaïa couture and La Durée pastry, this idea of constant paradox is illustrated in many ways: in one case, a sober cut and high neck are contrasted with an unexpected use of PVC. Other dresses are made from stiff, black cotton, almost nun-like from the front, but the rotating mannequin, is quick to reveal an osé backless cut with gigantic precious stones sewn at the bottom. Other cropped, micro dresses are made out of pastel satin and silk, as to highlight the demon and angel in every woman.

The headlessness of the mannequin and lack of accessorizing doesn’t ‘humanize’ the clothes, or help the potential buyers’ imagination. Instead the dresses appear as precious stones floating in empty space. This is the right timing to present a Turkey-related event : on top of the Istanbul Biennale, which kicked off on the 28th of September, attracting worldwide artists and buyers, France is currently celebrating the so-called ‘Turkish Season’, that is, several months dedicated to the country’s culture, hosting various talks, exhibitions, debates.

“People often ask me if Istanbul is my lover, but I always reply that no, Istanbul is definitely a woman.” Indeed, women from all over will find a sinner and saint in themselves by looking at the dresses.

Dice Kayek, 23 rue Molière, 75001 Paris