We didn’t set out to find what makes Fatoş Yalın, well, Fatoş Yalın. She is just who she is. Yalın’s energy, which she perhaps unconsciously exudes, her fashion knowledge without self-righteousness, her own brand Fey that she micro-manages down to the last button, and her lifestyle undoubtedly ripe for emulation, have all united impeccably under her name. How could we not do an interview?
You’re one of the names that has been present and secretly shaping the Turkish fashion scene since its inception and consequent development. What kind of differences do you see between your time at Marie Claire and the present point of your career?
I worked with magazines during my entire career. In that 30- year adventure, which began with Vizon magazine and continued with Marie Claire, I’ve witnessed astounding technical progression. I can’t really say the same for fashion, and I don’t quite think that I’ve maneuvered its development.
Fashion is colorful, exciting, changing, and most importantly, an area that requires creativity. And creativity can only exist with minds that are free, experienced, and removed from the ordinary.
Turkey was and still is an important country for textiles. However, I think it has not been able to show the necessary advancement in terms of fashion and creativity. I think the ‘ready to wear,’ sector needs more free room to develop with original and brave designs that are not based solely on profit.
A few years ago I came to you for advice when you were still working at Marie Claire. You said, “You have to decide whether you really want to be in this industry.” Presently, I’ve started to understand what you mean by this but I still want to inquire why you gave me this particular bit of advice?
I don’ quite remember why, but I do know that even though the magazine industry looks very colorful from the outside, from the inside it’s become a bit desolate in recent years. I suppose I didn’t want you to work hard and then be disappointed in the beginning of your career or to settle for a shallow working environment.
I’m not sure what ‘she is it’ means. Does that mean I’m done with my work? Or that I am the best? In which category does one become it?
Actually, if you’d asked me this question during my first years as a fashion editor I would have given you a very different response. Those were the best years of my career. Magazines were still a new concept in the world and the years rolled by with increasing excitement. Sadly in Turkey instead of progressing, magazines regressed, and I have no idea why, given that all the foreign brands arrived and advertisement became rife with opportunity.
There’s a definite collaborative spirit felt in the fashion world abroad where designers support each other, institutions hand out monetary support, and magazines highlight up and coming talent. This unity is a very foreign concept in Turkey. What is the reason behind our inability to get to this point?
In other countries, no matter what sector, whether photography, design, or finance, everyone is professional and intellectual and places high value on their work. That’s why they possess so much strength and influence in every area. Almost all of the designers are truly creative, the people who
critique them are knowledgeable, and the magazines sway world fashion trends by always putting forth their own style.
Investors are smart carrying the designer brand they work with to different and contemporary levels by ditching the boss role and simply supporting the designer and getting the most out of their talent. As you mentioned, all of these factors look like an amazing case of solidarity from the outside. But what’s really happening is that everyone is doing their job and trying to do it very well. In Turkey, advancement becomes impossible because the rules are intertwined and everyone tries to do everything.
…even though the magazine industry looks very colorful from the outside, from the inside it’s become a bit desolate in recent years. I suppose I didn’t want you to work hard and then be disappointed in the beginning of your career or to settle for a shallow working environment.
The Fey brand really reflects you. Its simplicity, lifestyle, colors, models, accessories, and even the scent that you can recognize from the street! Can you tell us about the process of the brand’s formation?
Fey’s resemblance to me is something I hear about a lot. It was impossible for it to resemble anyone else because it didn’t begin as a profit focused commercial endeavor. When I create the collections, I only choose things I would wear myself without separating them into clothing or accessory and without thinking about whether they will sell. When I say that Fey is not a commercial endeavor, it’s of course important to make sales, but I think it’s essential to do that without sacrificing what makes it unique. All my life I’ve been very lucky in my work, managing to always work freely and passionately. Yet, one day my need to be even freer made me decide to open this boutique.
I know you thoroughly enjoy vintage shopping in New York for Fey, and this is very much reflected in the collections. Is it the nostalgic designs or the induced feeling that attracts you to vintage items? Or is it something else?
The outfits I create for Fey are very simple, easy to wear, ageless, and timeless. Vintage accessories can carry this aesthetic to an altogether different level, and it’s impossible to achieve this with newer jewelry that you can find everywhere. Surprises always cause excitement!
Whether due to your convictions or what you’ve learned, your approach never screams “I’ve made it.” Even at this point in your life, is it not possible to declare that you’ve accomplished that?
I’m not sure what ‘she is it’ means. Does that mean I’m done with my work? Or that I am the best? In which category does one become it? Because I never wanted to hear any of these questions’ answers, I probably gave off this impression without even noticing. Not that I mind…
When I imagine you somewhere outside of Istanbul, it’s not New York, which you visit so frequently, but the beaches of Southern France or the Amalfi Coast. Where does your style, characterized by an endearing haphazardness that always draws the right kind of attention, come from? How has your upbringing affected your personal taste?
I think you’re complimenting me… I think you’ve very sweetly asked the question I’ve never been able to answer. Does it make my work easier? No.
That’s probably because the answer is within the question; you’ve answered it as you were inquiring. And that’s the way it should be if you ask me, because what I create is an outward reflection of the places I’ve been, the things I’ve seen, the way I was raised, what I’ve heard and read… It would take forever to talk about everything and everyone that has affected me, and it will probably not be easy, so I think what can be understood suffices.
Does your work make you happy?
Yes I love it! And the best part is that to me it appears amateur but actually possesses a very professional philosophy.
And inspiration? Not just for your work but to also disperse negativity… from who or what do you draw inspiration?
From the moonlight that shines before me right now! Because “Fey quality was there ; the ability to see the moon at mid-day.”
Photography Fora Norman