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Unmasking fashion’s dreamy Insta-archivist @ppennylane

Ruken Elif’s visual scrapbook earns her @dazedfashion’s Instagram of the week – she tells us what’s behind the alias

Curator of fashion images, stylist and creator of Australia’s favourite archive designer shopping hangout, Ppennylane a.k.a Ruken Elif admits she leads a double life. By day, Elif is a timid, Melbourne-based university student, and by night she scours the web, collecting rare visuals and assembling them on Tumblr and Instagram to create a unique aesthetic experience for her followers. In addition to showcasing her immaculate taste on social media, Ruken also manages and hosts an invite-only online shopping page, where Aussie girls from all over shop and swap specialty designer pieces. Her eye and style have caught the attention of designers and creatives like Simon Porte Jacquemus, Anders Haal and Ann Sofie Back, who actively follow and praise the stylist online. We caught up with the 27-year-old creative to discuss the importance of academia, the online fashion community in Australia and her most coveted archival pieces. 

What and who is @PPennylane

Ruken Elif: I often ask myself this! It's all too confusing as no doubt I lead a double life. @Ppennylane is my alias, I am an ordinary Instagram user who shares images and videos of anything that evokes emotion in me that everyone else seems to love too. I'll occasionally post photos of my outfits, but I find that incredibly embarrassing. In everyday life, I'm a doctorate student and occasionally a fashion stylist. I have a strong passion for animal welfare and am an animal rights activist as well as I'm a strong advocate of sustainable and ethical fashion. I collect books, shoes and enjoy aerobics. I have three cats and one dog. I hope to open a shoe museum someday. My ultimate dream is to see fur and animal materials being phased out of the fashion industry all together.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

Ruken Elif: Style: Understated and masculine. Aesthetic: A curated blend of playful humour.

Did you have a creative upbringing? 

Ruken Elif: My parents were first generation migrants. My father was a builder who escaped his country for political persecution, and my mother was a public servant. They never wanted me to experience hardship like themselves so they strongly encouraged academia – I was wired in from a very young age to study hard and to get into a good college, so I knew I would never be able to study fashion or arts. I remember always wanting to make things at as a child, I would beg my mother to take me to Art Works where I would buy lots of bits and pieces and make things out of nothing. I taught myself to crochet and knit, and bought my first sewing machine at fifteen. I was obsessed with origami, Art Attack, knitting and would make jewellery for my friends.

How did you become interested in fashion?

Ruken Elif: The closest thing to fashion magazines I had as child was Dolly and Girlfriend magazines. As a teen, I went to a free dress high school, so I tried my best to be as fashionable as I could. There was no online shopping back then or fast fashion retailers. So, my friends and I would spend hours in out-dated department stores trying on clothes that we knew we could never afford. We would often buy pieces together to share and were continually recycling clothing amongst us. My true calling for fashion came when I visited Paris and New York in my late teens. 

“As a teen, my friends and I would spend hours in out-dated department stores trying on clothes that we knew we could never afford”

Tell me a bit about your Facebook group?

Ruken Elif:  I started the group just over a year ago as a means of selling my own designer clothing. My closet was overflowing and there were too many good pieces in there that weren't being worn! I found eBay was too laborious and the fees were discouraging. The group surprisingly caught on immediately. I decided to keep the group small at around 4000 members to make sure it didn't turn into an online thrift store. It was created to buy/sell local independent Australian and international designers, which have a huge cult following here. But, members also sell cute furniture, concert tickets and special vintage pieces. We are a lovely trustworthy community and I've met some of my closest friends through it. It's amazing how one item of clothing can be cycled through several members just within a year. And most importantly, the group promotes sustainability. Clothing and leather goods are forever recycled. No one just throws away clothing anymore. 

What are the best things you’ve scored through it?

Ruken Elif: Some rare pieces I've found on the group are 1994 Stephan Keilan pour Issey Miyake sandals, 1995 Margiela Tabi sandals and a 2007 Comme Des Garçons hand dress. The best thing about the group is that you can find almost anything you want especially archive pieces or sold out pieces. Just put out a "WANTED" and you will find it eventually. 

How do you source images?  

Ruken Elif: There is a beautiful image almost anywhere. I use Tumblr, Instagram, books, magazines, museums, galleries and online archives. If there is something I've seen a glimpse of maybe in a feed somewhere, I'll search and search until I can find the artist/source.  

How does your basis in Australia inspire or limit your creativity? 

Ruken Elif: There is a wonderful community of talented creatives here in Australia to work with – photographers, stylists and artists. As a stylist however, I find many Australian mainstream fashion designers do not match my aesthetic and I do feel rather limited when sourcing, so I often tend to use my own wardrobe. However, Australia is producing an amazing generation of young designers, which I am so excited about. In terms of sourcing content for Instagram, there are no limits on that. Instagram, social media and online magazines have become an amazing platform that have connected me with some of the brightest creatives from all over the world and opened up a range of possibilities for me. Friends I've made for life, and designers and artists, who have taken notice of my page, which I never could have dreamt of happening.