designer dilara findikoglu doesn’t play by the rules

​We talk to the designer about forging your own path and standing up for what you believe in.

by Tish Weinstock
12 July 2016, 11:30pm

Born in Istanbul, to a family with traditional Turkish values, Dilara Findikoglu has been rebelling her entire life. Her first act of rebellion? Drawing sketches of women all around the walls of her living room when she was just two years old. Another act that stands out is #encoreCSM, the guerrilla show she and a handful of other young designers staged during their third year at CSM, after being banned from showing at the school's official annual press show. In fact, the idea of rebellion is stitched into the very fabric of Dilara's collections, from her sharply tailored, fraying edged suits in blood red and snakeskin, to her bejewelled ovary and bleeding heart patches. Even the women she's inspired by -- Cilem Dogan, Queen Elizabeth I, Marlene Dietrich, the Goddess Athena - are beacons of female strength, power, and non conformity. 

In a world saturated by sameness, designers like Dilara who don't play by the rules are like diamonds in the rough. As she currently works towards showing her next collection, as well as the launch of a capsule line for Selfridges, we catch up with fashion's future enfant terrible. Expect big things from this one.

What was growing up in Turkey like?
It forced me to discover artistic subjects on my own. There was always a pull between living a traditional life or pursuing an artistic career. I had to find my place in all of it.

Describe your first fashion moment?
Probably when I was around two, drawing sketches of women on the walls and ruining the living room.

Have you always been into clothes?
I've always been into the attitudes and conventions that came with clothes.

What is it about dressing the body that fascinates you most?
I don't really think about the body but construction of meanings that influence actions and conceptions and how it can challenge cultural meanings.

How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
My aesthetic is constantly in flux. It's a bricolage.

Can you tell us a bit about #encoreCSM?
EncoreCSM was about communicating our subjectivities as young creatives and challenging the structure. It was nice to see something I led is still happening this year.

How did you feel after leaving CSM?
As every recent graduate I felt lost at first but it drove me to take a step ahead. So I kind of like the struggle.

What was the inspiration behind your first collection?
It was about a new belief system that ignores the control imposed by religions and unifies people by its laws based on simple human acts. This was a reaction to question fundamentalist constructs that is currently terrorizing the world.

Who or what inspires you?
A mixture of influences of subcultural dress. Power and inequality, cultural hybridity, and religion. Alejandro Jadorowsky, Rene Guenon.

Your patches are so unique, what are some of your favourite ones?
I love the beaded ovaries-patch right in front of one of my trousers.

What's been your career highlight so far?
Being stocked at Selfridges, and seeing my designs on a few names I can't disclose for now.

Who is the ultimate Dilara girl?
Non-obedient and controversial. She doesn't compare herself against "the norm". She challenges conceptions of femininity. Athena, Cilem Dogan, Elizabeth I, Marlene Dietrich…

How do you want those who wear your clothes to feel?
Empowered, brave, womanly.

What can you tell us about the next collection?
I'm working with materials and colours that I haven't worked with before. So I will be surprised by the outcome as well. As a topic, I am addressing global female issues. That's all I can say for now.

What's the bravest thing you can do as a young person?
The bravest thing one can do is to stand up and speak up for what they believe.

What's the best thing about being a girl in 2016?
Not as a girl but as a human being, with the increase of globalisation, we are now able to learn from history and hopefully change the future for better.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
Make major changes, while making clothes.


Text Tish Weinstock
Photographer: Vinca Petersen
Stylist: Ellie Grace Cumming
Art Direction: Ben Freeman
Casting: Chloe Rosolek
Shoes: Dora Teymur
Hair: Philippe Tholimet
Make up: Ninni Numela

London designers
Central Saint Martins
dilara findikoglu