Celebrating her 15th year in the industry this season, Mehtap Elaidi dreamt of a second career in life and rolled up her sleeves to make this dream come true. When her brand taking its first steps, she is now working under the umbrella of Fashion Designers Association in order to bring fashion designers in Turkey together in order to take part in joint projects. We had a flavorsome conversation with Mehtap Elaidi on the future of Turkish fashion and her Fall/ Winter 2015 collection “Spice”, which was highly applauded in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Istanbul. We were inspired by the 15-year-long story of a woman who is too brave to inhibit her dreams.
Let’s start with a journey to the past on the 15th anniversary of Mehtap Elaidi brand. How were the foundations of Mehtap Elaidi brand laid?
Mehtap Elaidi brand is like my youngest child, it is really exciting to watch it grow. My brand is actually my second career; during my previous job I had decided that it was time for a radical change in my life. I was 36 years old, fashion design was my childhood dream and time was slipping by. The foundation years of Mehtap Elaidi brand were actually my years of learning. The years spent learning from scratch,discovering and experimenting were delightful, and then it progressed rapidly. In my thirds years I was participating in fairs, and had opened my second store. When I look back I can say that these 15 winding years have changed me as a person as well.
You like to tell stories in your collections?
My collections tell several stories about the urban life of the Mehtap Elaidi woman. I can say that I write stories of women who like to discover, live life to the fullest and enjoy wearing versatile designs. When we look at the collection, of course it’s important to create pieces that are wearable and suitable to mix and match in the context of these stories. Colors, prints and details tie these pieces together, so each piece in the collection becomes a line in the story.
Other than your own brand, in previous years you have collaborated with Boyner under its brands. What do you think about the brand-designer collaborations that are highly popular nowadays?
Brand-designer collaborations are extremely enriching for both the brand and the designer. As a designer, you first of all get the chance to reach a wider audience with your brand, designs and name. And by collaborating with the designer the brand gets the opportunity to add to its existing audience a new audience who are more sensitive to fashion and trends, who pay attention to own designer pieces. Of course, the key word of the brand-designer collaborations is balance. The DNA of the brand should meet the design mentality of the designer in the middle and the emerging collection should reflect both the brand and the designer.
For your last few collections you are also going on with your sub-collections of white shirts and you design these shirts within the frame of a certain theme…
Whites shirts may be the pieces that take up the most space in a woman’s wardrobe, on the other hand it’s a very fun piece to deconstruct. With little touches you can adapt a classical white shirt into eveningwear or a sporty style, this is why white shirts are my favorites.
You have named your Fall/Winter collection “Spice”, how does this inspiration reflect on the collection?
In my Spice collection I have identified the Spice Road with İstanbul in terms of connecting the East to the West and I wanted the designs in the collection to add a new touch, a sixth sense in women’s lives, just like spices added to food. The velvet fabrics, frills and ruffles in the collection have portrayed a more entertaining Mehtap Elaidi woman compared to my previous collections.
As the president of Fashion Designers Association, you have taken part in many projects aiming to introduce Turkish fashion in the international arena. When you look from past to present, where do you see the Turkish Fashion?
I built my brand in the year 2000. Since then, there have been many changes. The foundation of the Fashion Designers Association is especially a milestone for me. There is a long road ahead of us, but many important beginnings occurred, and some fundamental steps have been taken. When I look at it, I see designers who have built their own brands and are continuing their journey consistently, and an industry that supports these designers. I believe that in the future the designer brands and branding in firms will increase in number.
Photography: Tabitha Karp