ISTANBUL — Sitting at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Turkey has inspired both creation and trade for centuries. The country’s top luxury fashion and lifestyle department store Beymen is celebrating that rich heritage during its own 50th anniversary celebrations, which began last week in Istanbul.
“We decided to do something different to celebrate our 50th anniversary by looking into the 500 years of history of luxury in these lands and take that into present day with a global eye,” said Elif Çapçi, chief executive officer of Beymen. “The exhibition is a celebration of Beymen’s 50th anniversary but also a tribute to Istanbul’s centuries-old multicultural heritage.”
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The project took two years of planning with more than 100 experts including collectors, historians and museum curators, in what Çapçi described as “a major initiative to dig into the history of luxury.”
The result is a treasure trove of historical silk embroidered caftans dating back to the 18th century on display alongside the work of contemporary designers inspired by the region’s history. “We took the historical Anatolian references and shared them with 50 international brands which we have collaborated with to design special pieces for this anniversary. The brands took inspiration and interpreted with their own DNA,” said Çapçi.
The exhibition of luxurious garments, old and new, will run until Dec. 15 at Istanbul’s historic 15th century Tophane-i Amire Culture and Arts Center. “This is really a big thank-you from Beymen to our customers, to the Turkish public,” added Çapçı.
Pierpaolo Piccioli, creative director of Valentino, created a Valentino pink, 13-foot long maxi cape and gown with tulip embroidery. “I interpreted my homage to Beymen’s half century as a gift and a dialogue. I took the best of my Valentino contemporary and historical scenario — volumes, feathers, textures, color, identity — and adorned it with a Turkish romantic symbol, the tulips. Those two tulips are just like two lovers chasing each other on the Bosphorus,” he said.
Olivier Rousteing created a special collection of Turkish-inspired pieces for Balmain on display at the exhibition. “My team and I channeled the renowned splendor of the finest Ottoman artisans, with Turkey’s rich heritage reflected in this capsule’s incredible fabrics, beads, jewels and embroideries,” he said. Those embellishments, featuring the precise Parisian tailoring, sharp cuts and the volumes for which Balmain is known, resulted in a show-stopping suit, a center point of the exhibition.
Turkish sisters Ayse and Ece Ege of Paris-based Dice Kayek said being a part of the exhibition was very meaningful for them. “Being from here, we have always appreciated the value of the hands, of work done by hands. We have always believed it. I’m constantly inspired by the heritage of the land.”
Although they didn’t launch in their native Turkey, Beymen was their first client. “They purchased our entire first collection of poplin shirts in 1994. They were our first client and we are still here today,” said Ece Ege.
Aside from the exhibition, the celebration includes the publication of a book, “Golden Opulence,” written by Laurence Benaïm and published by Assouline, as well as a forthcoming documentary highlighting the importance and value of Turkey’s ultural heritage in fashion and design.
As Beymen looks ahead on its 50th anniversary, Çapçi said the focus is continuing to strengthen its position in the market. “The industry is changing a lot. We have to stay ahead of the change, keep inspiring. Beymen stands for a certain way of life, quality, of attention to detail. We have always been a bridge between Turkey and global fashion. We have a market share of 40 percent in luxury fashion in Turkey. And for more than 1,000 brands, we represent them exclusively” in Turkey.
Thirty percent of the retailer’s business is now online, she added, and the aim is to continue to strengthen that.
The company was acquired by Qatar-based Mayhoola for Investment LLC in 2019 and currently operates 20 stores across Turkey and one in Cairo. However, according to Çapçi, they are not looking at international expansion outside of the country. “We are successful because we are very focused.
“Sometimes when you have very heavy issues and agenda in the world, people may not feel talking about luxury as being as relevant. But this is really intertwined with culture and history. We sense the multifaceted, unifying and enriching power of fashion, art, and culture more strongly today than ever. It’s a source of tremendous pride to know that our country’s unmatched cultural heritage will continue to inspire luxury fashion and design around the world,” said Çapçi.
The exhibition, she said, will visit other major fashion capitals after Istanbul.
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