DICE KAYEK’S SUBDUED SEASON
For upwards of two decades, Dice Kayek’s Ece and Ayse Ege have created remarkable garments that result from couture-level craftmanship and a contemporary approach to elegance. Between Istanbul, where they are based and Paris, where they have a boutique in Saint-German-des-Prés, the sisters have been consistent to their design values and vision – always impeccably constructed with just a trace of edge. Last month, they had just landed in Paris when they learned about the earthquakes that hit southeast Turkey and northern Syria. While still exquisite, their creations this season are noticeably more subdued. Meanwhile, they have already made an initial €10,000 donation to UNICEF’s relief efforts for children and have created a page on the organisation’s web site so that the fashion community can contribute in kind.
The recent earthquakes have had a devastating effect on your country. How do you connect with your creativity and continue as usual when there is so much suffering?
It’s really impossible to think of anything else, let alone create, when a calamity of this scale hits your home country. It’s been devastating for us on many levels. However, we had this upcoming presentation during Paris Fashion Week that we had to prepare for. So we decided to add a coat with an embroidered broken heart on its chest, because that’s how we’ve been feeling since February 6th.
And, of course, we realise this humanitarian crisis in Turkey will require sustainable support on our part. It’s not enough – nothing’s quite enough – to bring relief to millions of people; but we want to contribute to building a future for the surviving children as much and as long as we can. We urge everyone in the fashion world to consider doing the same.
What would you like us to know about this collection?
The presentation highlights the latest styles from Dice Kayek’s Fall-Winter 2023 collection. Featuring a sombre colour palette of mostly black, the new collection exudes the subdued elegance the brand has become synonymous with. Some of Dice Kayek’s signature looks that marry architectural silhouettes with timeless grace will be on display throughout the Saint-Germain des Près flagship store as well as new embroidered dresses handcrafted at the brand’s Istanbul atelier.
The exhibition is designed almost as a stationary runway show with pieces lined up from the second to the ground floor. The pièce de résistance of the exhibition, revealed at the finale, is an oversized black coat embroidered with a bleeding heart on its chest This is evocative of the immense grief Turkey, the brand’s country of origin, is going through.
What moment, design or collection marked a turning point for you?
That turning point was our Istanbul Contrast collection, which we first showed at the Ritz Hotel during Paris Fashion Week in 2009. We presented it as an art exhibition, as if it was made to be displayed in a museum. And funny enough, the collection ended up being shown at many important museums around the world. It was at Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris during the Turkish Season in France in 2010. Then it travelled to the Istanbul Modern, the Amsterdam Museum, the Hermitage-Kazan Museum, the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization and so on. It was shortlisted for the Jameel Prize in 2013, when it was presented at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, which ended up acquiring three pieces (The Hagia Sophia, the Caftan and the Dome). Another piece, the Dome 2, was acquired by the LACMA and will be a part of their upcoming “Women Defining Women In Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Beyond” exhibition in April.
Where are you noticing the most significant changes in fashion today?
We are happy to see quality over quantity being valued again. There’s definitely a gravitation towards timeless and wearable clothes, instead of trying to keep up whatever’s the latest trend. Appreciation of high-quality materials and craftsmanship has once more become important, which makes brands such as ours really enthusiastic and hopeful about these values we’ve always held dear.
How well do you think fashion is embracing various societal shifts: gender, inclusion, diversity, environmental engagement?
Fashion is no doubt one of most polluting industries in the world today. Even though every major brand seems to be invested in reducing their environmental impact, it is largely cosmetic… It’s nearly impossible to talk about change with the level of consumption the world is feeling comfortable with right now. Fast fashion has created a 24/7 production cycle and gotten the world addicted to it. We really need to change our mindset on what we want to convey with our consumption habits before we can talk about real change in the opposite direction.
The fashion audience is ever-evolving. How important is it for you to connect with Generation Z (and how are you doing this)?
As Generation X creators, we didn’t really expect to have Gen Z customers so early on, but here we are! It’s lovely to see most of our younger customers coming into our store with their mothers or grandmothers, who are likely Dice Kayek regulars. Now they want to buy the same dress in different size so they can twin with their granddaughters!
We are lucky in that our customers are usually individuals who understand quality, appreciate the know-how that goes into making a high-quality garment. The structure, the choice of fabric, the timeless and ageless style. One thing about our brand is that it doesn’t matter your age; our garments can be worn at any point in life. Because it’s a matter of attitude, not of age or ethnicity or career.
Evolution and improvement are related. What is one essential improvement the industry could be making?
Good craftsmanship is one of the pillars of our brand. We know how crucial it is for the industry to support its craftspeople, which is, unfortunately, a dying breed. Young people should be incentivized to study traditional ways of garment and accessory-making. Handcrafts, artisanal methods of tailoring are so important for the fashion industry, especially for couture. Machines might be more efficient but they lack the know-how and the savoir faire that goes into creating a hand-crafted garment.
Evolution is gradual; revolution is radical. Is fashion still capable of revolution?
Fashion will always find a way to stay revolutionary. Especially as we move deeper into engagement with technology. We might be living in the in-between for now, but our sense of fashion will surely evolve when we all decide to live in the Metaverse.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.