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Graduate Spotlight: MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear student Pelin Isildak


Written by
Josh De Souza Crook
Published date
18 February 2016

The next Graduate Spotlight ahead of this weeks LCFMA16 Womenswear Catwalk show is MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear student Pelin Isildak. The Turkish designer looked at the history of uniforms between 16th to 19th Century, and how society defined notability during different periods of history. Pelin will be showing her collection along with nine other  MA Womenswear designers to an industry and press audience this evening, the whole event will be live streamed so be sure to tune in at 7pm GMT.

LCF_MA16_Pelin Isildak

MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear designer Pelin Isildak will be showcasing her whole collection at this weeks LCFMA16 Catwalk live stream. Photography by Felix Cooper and styling by Anders Sølvsten Thomsen.

Tell us about your final collection? 

It is called “roots, 23:23”. Its about refreshing our memory on our perception of naming each other. I find it interesting how we succeeded to free ourselves from the limitations that authorities claim at times. By looking at hierarchies in societies throughout time, you see a distinctive limit to how people were taught to act and dressed according to their status. I started analysing uniforms between the 16th and 19th century, I then looked at how we defined notability at different points and worked towards refining the court suits, corsets, capes and armours in a minimal way. Today anyone is able to adapt to almost anything, it made sense to imitate the elements of nobility within a different perspective, kind of to break into the past and to question what ‘familiar’ still is.

In Zen philosophy, even though we are progressing and leaning towards the future, the present is affected by both the past and the future, where also the past is affected by the future. As someone who is intrigued by repetition, I was weirdly seeing the same repeated numbers for years, 23:23 whenever I checked the time. This repetition offered new dimensions each time I came across it. My collection tried to record key elements of power in today’s attire. We are still required to wear uniforms to be a part of society, following the same formula created hundreds of years ago, the classical codes of dressing. I reinterpreted this sense of new hierarchy by reducing the cutting of silhouettes, by valuing tailoring and using various different qualities of fabric in a single garment. I also used innovative techniques such as laser engraving on the leather and fur.

Where did you study prior to your MA at LCF?

I did my BFA at Textile arts and Fashion Design at Marmara University’s Fine Arts Faculty, back in Istanbul, where I am originally from. I also took short courses at UAL on portfolio and footwear. Then I have worked in the industry as a designer for nearly 5 years prior to my MA.

Reflecting back on your MA, and thinking of any prospective students thinking about starting an MA, what would be your top three tips/bits of advice would you give to them? 

The first tip is your approach – focus on your own aesthetic with critical analysis at all times and keep adding skills while being who you are. The second is be patient because the whole process is exhausting, but doing a postgraduate is a great time to push your limits. Finally, look out for opportunities to collaborate with people from different courses. Working alongside other designers and creatives is a great time to broaden your perspective, create work with others, and apply a multidisciplinary approach to your work.

Why did you choose LCF and MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear

I always wanted to move to London after having worked in the industry for a while, I felt that it was time for me to refine my techniques and focus on what I wanted to explore. I already knew LCF was an open-minded environment that seeks innovation while being realistic, this is what made me apply to the course. To me, clothing should be wearable and the main point is the innovation, which is all part of the market, I think LCF reflects the real market side of the fashion industry.

What have you found the most enjoyable and interesting parts of the course? And what have you found the most challenging? 

Sharing the same studio with many talented people who are equipped with different expertises was the best part of it. We all went through different phases with a common aim, all the effort that we put in, and all the challenges we complained about were unique but similar. The hardest thing was the time keeping and having to manage every aspect of the collection. I often wished for additional help because when I worked in the industry everyone had different roles, instead of one person focusing on everything.

What’s been your favourite thing about studying in London?

London has this vibe that frees you and truly lets you be an individual when you’re out and about, or working. People really appreciate what you are up to! Its probably because most movements were born and raised in London, it is filled with inspiration and people coming from different backgrounds and cultures. The art scene is always satisfying, either spending time in an exhibition or at a gig. I was thrilled to be able to look through Freemasonry’s archives during my research, I found it intriguing and it really helped me analyse attire from hundreds of years ago.

Have you won any prizes?

I won 1st Prize at the Young Fashion Designer Contest at ITKIB right after I graduated from my BA. It is a competition that finds new talents in Istanbul, Turkey. It allowed me to work with designers who I’ve always wanted to work with back then.

Work experience or placements? 

I had a placement at Bora Aksu in London after my BA for 6 months. I worked with him during London Fashion Week as his representer and he kindly allowed me to be part of his collection by assigning me to design the leggings. Then I have worked as a design assistant at Hakaan for almost 3 years, a brand which used to show at Paris Fashion Week for 6 seasons and currently shows at Milan as Hakan Yildirim. I also worked as a menswear designer for some time for a denim company, I helped define the brands concepts. Before that I was a merchandiser and designer at Vakko, another Turkish fashion company.

Describe your style in five words…

Present, self aware, decisive, classy and elegant.

Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?

I have many muses, mostly people with sharp identities such as Erik Satie and John Cage. They were the inspirations for my previous collections. I’m also intrigued by music, It’s the purest form of art for me!

What are your future plans and do you think the course helped you realise these plans?

I am currently working on building my brand and hoping to get support through competitions and sponsorships. I’m also looking for opportunities to work within a fashion house that suits my style, as long as I feel productive. The course definitely made me more conscious of my own work and capabilities thanks to our course director, Nigel Luck’s brilliant critics and the courage that Camilla Rossi, our pattern cutting tutor had given me during my time in the course. I’m looking forward to what will come next!