a celebration of modern beauty on the streets of istanbul
"Whenever I step out of the house I'm treated like a live bomb, everybody's wondering, but nobody gets close. I'm trying to tell people that everyone can wear anything."
"Given all the obstacles and restrictions sent our way in every corner of our lives, trans experience has historically been both a struggle and a success. Forced to live their lives behind closed doors most of the time, people of trans experience have also been deemed 'aliens', 'outsiders' or 'clownish freaks'. We should fight these attitudes of intolerance and hypocrisy. We should pass new, more inclusive laws recognising and protecting transgender people. We should reform education and healthcare systems on a global level. We should teach kids and young adults that being trans is beautiful. We should be able to shout it loud that trans is beautiful. We should start to see beyond society's conventional understanding of beauty. As a woman of trans experience, I know that I am beautiful the way I am. I want to share my own story, because future generations need to hear our powerful stories and learn how beautiful we are."
“I’m 18 and I live in Tarsus in the south of Turkey. I started modelling at the age of 16 after an Istanbul-based photographer scouted me on Instagram. Besides modelling I make music, play guitar and do photography when I find the time. I love sunsets, retro cars, purple lights and foggy nights.”
“I don’t care what other people think about how I look. This excites me. Whenever I step out of the house I'm treated like a live bomb, everybody's wondering, but nobody gets close. I'm trying to tell people that everyone can wear anything. The more visible we are, the less we blamed. Despite all the difficulties ıt makes you feel so free.”
“In Turkey traditional gender roles need to be challenged. Women are treated like second-class citizen and I grew up in this atmosphere. As time progresses, I noticed these norms affect people's opinions and I didn't want to conform to this. Deep down, I always knew that I was different from other men in my country. I just wanted to be me and show people who I was. I wanted to keep alive both the feminine and masculine spirit inside me and chose to ignore the judgemental eyes of the public. I pour my personality into my art and my style. I never wanted to be a part of anyone's standards, so I built my own. I'm trying to show people that men like me exist and it’s okay. I'm not hiding in my shell, but trying to talk to people who are curious about me and what I do. I answer their questions with sincerity and I also dress freely in public because people need to get used to it.”
“I’m not going to change my face to fit into society’s standards of beauty. People always ask me: ‘How can you be so confident about your big nose?’ and ‘are you planning to fix it?’ I respond to these people and share my ideas and photos of myself on social media in order to show and explain that I don’t want to be a product of conventional society. I edit all my images, exaggerating everything. I make my nose tiny, my lips huge, my cheekbones overly plump; I remove the ribs from my waist. I reach a lot of people through social media and I am constantly sharing my views and ideas with people. I get really positive feedback from people who say: ‘Thank you so much, I now love my nose and appreciate how unique it is. I feel way more confident thanks to you’. This makes me feel proud and happy. No one should dictate how you should look or aspire to be.”
“At first it was hard to understand how the fashion industry worked because there were no other models from Turkey who had gone global. I had my breakthrough when I changed my mother agency to one in Hamburg and walked as an exclusive for Balenciaga. Every brand or photographer that I have worked with have been surprised that I am a Turkish model. Now the industry is becoming far more aware about diversity.
"There are some instances where brands look for a specific ethnicity to increase sales. However, I think the industry is now mainly interested in uniqueness and if someone sees something in you that makes you distinct, they go for that. You know, it goes beyond ethnic identity at some point and becomes more about who you are as a person. That’s what attractive about fashion, for me at least. I’m very glad and humbled to take part in this issue of iD magazine as the first Turkish model to be featured.”
“15 million people live in Istanbul and each person brings their own experiences and perspective. Living here means being exposed to so much diversity, but also chaos. I’m always being influenced, and this in turn has an effect on my art. Being a dancer in Turkey is like being one flower in a huge garden.”
Eylem Basar Sogut founder of the street casting agency Castingkiller
“Turkey is like a bridge between Europe and East. This crossing is present in our culture and lives. Why isn’t it reflected in our fashion and beauty standards? Why are models often white and Russian-looking in our fashion industry? Just following what has already been done and not fully celebrating the diversity of our culture feels wrong to me. Our country has become too conservative in the past twenty years. We used to be modern. We were one of the first countries in the world to give women the right to vote. I’m proud of our history and I want to stop us going backwards.
"As well as a casting agent I’m also a political scientist who wants to make the world a better place. In my casting work I’m trying to change our cookie cutter industry. We are both European and Eastern. I want to celebrate this! I can’t believe people don’t find the traditional Turkish look beautiful and they only want tall Russian blonde and Northern European models. Very few people actually look like this in Turkish society. This is why I got into fashion and I’m the first person in Turkey to work in street-casting. I want fashion to be more realistic and more humane. We called the agency ‘Castingkiller’ because we want to crush beauty standards in the modelling and fashion industry. This is part of my dream to make a better future through politics, fashion and art.”
Styling Bojana Kozarevic
Hair Soichi Inagaki at Art Partner using Bumble and bumble.
Make-up Rebecca Wordingham at Saint Lukes using NARS Cosmetics.
Nail technician Pinar Kozin.
Photography assistance Milly Cope.
Styling assistance Emily Jones, Mehmet Yasar, Muhammet Bozkurt and Giovanni Beda.
Hair assistance Huseyin Altun.
Make-up assistance Ceren Eroz.
Production (London) Christina Barrett.
Production (Istanbul) Gözde Cengis at Art+Ist.
Production assistance Mert Abedan.
Post Production ink. Shot at Istanbul Sarayburnu, Cagaloglu Hamami and The Spice Bazaar.
Special thanks to Tomtom Kirmizi. Casting for Günce Troy Agency at D+V Management.
Casting for all other models Eylem Basar Sögüt at Casting Killer.
Models Günce Gözütok at M+P. Nora Senkal. Bugra Büyüksimsek. Bahadır Akkuyu. Mert Eken. Melek Nur Kacan. Krutzog. Su Alandagli. Irem Nur Sancak. Çaglar Almendi. Cassandra a.k.a Gizem Erhan.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.