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Fashion Scene - Substance instead of Spectacle

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"I'm almost a bit frightened of colourful fabrics, because they can look intrusive on the body", says Ayzit Bostan about her designs.

Designs by Munich fashion designer Ayzit Bostan combine contrasts playfully: wearable without being commercial, simple and complex at the same time - and always suitable for everyday wear. Insiders have considered the label a secret tip for years. Ayzit Bostan is making fashion with substance - for women and men who don't want to be different from how they are.

"Hello, please can we put off the interview for a day?" Ayzit Bostan has a substantial reason for her call: after all, on the evening arranged the teams of Germany and Turkey are playing in the semi-final of Euro 2008. In other words the country in which the Turkish-born designer lives against the nation she comes from.

Just a few days earlier the play Illegal premiered at the Munich Kammerspiele. Its central theme is foreigners who live in hiding without a residence permit in Germany and their shadow existence in a parallel world. Ayzit Bostan designed the costumes, which after Ein Junge, der nicht Mehmet heißt (a boy who is not called Mehmet) in the year 2004 was already her second theatre work at the Kammerspiele. She spent five or six weeks developing a total of twelve figures, translating her characters into fabric. "I find it exciting to dress real people", she says. The fact that the term "costume" doesn't do justice here is shown clearly by her outfits - they are as realistic as they are subtle; they function as textile supports that help the actor in his role without disguising him.

The opposite of the moon
Life's just like a play: the designs of Bostan's fashion collection frame the personality and essence of the person wearing them. They typically vary from black to midnight blue in colour, and it is also the choice of materials that shows her subtlety. As well as this they feature elaborately tailored, "couturish" finesse, often surprising in detail. Bostan's designs are sophisticated. They speak a language of quiet tones, and are appreciably feel-good clothes, neither contrived nor intended. "Many things just happen", says the designer simply.

The studio, which is hidden in a sort of backyard in Munich's Glockenbach district, suits Ayzit Bostan's unpretentious style. Born in 1968 in Ankara, she came to Germany in 1972 with her family. She translates her name from Turkish as "moon opposite". What does that mean? "Sun maybe", she considers. She knows that she's single-minded: "It was always clear to me that a nine-to-five job would not be an option, possibly with a collection I don't like!".
She was also certain that she wanted to work with her hands. Fighting resistance from her family, she took an apprenticeship under the well-known Munich designer Nana Müllerschön, did casual work at the same time and notched up a year of tailoring technique at the Deutsche Meisterschule für Mode (German Fashion School). "Fashion design is often such a rich kid's profession", she observes. For Ayzit Bostan it was hard work that soon brought success: after completing her training she won the Munich City Förderpreis für Angewandte Kunst (applied art scholarship) in 1997 and made herself independent.
Body-hugging styling and subtle cut
She designs "garments that I just fancied. Of course my style has developed, but the essentially simple look has always been typical for me." What type of woman does she envisage for this? "Urban, intelligent, someone who knows what she wants. My fashion is a natural extension of the self, not intended for women who want to decorate themselves."

There have also been role models: the Austrian Helmut Lang for instance, or Cypriot Hussein Chalayan, who both represent a minimalist design philosophy. What links Lang, Chalayan and Bostan is body-hugging styling, high-quality fabrics and a subtle cut. She doesn't rate the fickle character of the fashion industry, juggling with skirt lengths and leg widths. "It's sick, always wanting to go one better", she reckons, and carries on developing her styles every season unperturbed.
Surprising solutions
How effectively Bostan's organic style can be applied to accessories is proved by a small, classy collection of bags for Bree. "I was given plenty of freedom for the design, and I remained true to myself in a definitive sense", is how she comments on the five models to be launched by the German leather manufacturer in Autumn 2008. Despite their simplicity, they all show an astonishing approach and surprising solutions.

They won't set off fireworks when it comes to colour either. "I'm almost a bit frightened of colourful fabrics, because they can look intrusive on the body. I think brightly coloured accessories are great, though", says the dark-haired designer, who acts as a djane in her small amount of spare time. As she did at an event hosted by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron last year.

Simple and essential
The fact that some of Bostan's friends are designers and artists can be seen from the nameplates of her neighbours, such as Stefan Diez or Nizan Cohen, who also number amongst her friends. The male model who presents the first-look photos on the gents' collection homepage isn't unknown either: industry designer Konstantin Grcic (according to a survey by the art magazine art in May 2008 he was voted number one most influential designer in the world) doesn't just wear Bostan's styles for the photographer. His personal favourite is a cropped leather jacket made from thin, soft leather, which fits like a second skin. "The design is reduced to absolute essentials - no fashion details, just pure form", he says of the garment.

Fans can order Ayzit's latest creations from her website or buy them in selected boutiques. That includes the "I love" T-shirt, which made her famous nine years ago. Its inscription quoted the famous slogan "I love NY" from the 1980s. However in Ayzit's version the "NY" was missing, and wasn't replaced by another object of reference, so that simply "I love" was left.
"For me, I love is equivalent in meaning to: I live", she explains. With all this energy, does she think about where she wants to be in five or ten years? "No! I don't want to be disappointed", is the spontaneous answer, which - individual, honest and natural - tallies with her style of fashion. And just does not aspire to be anything else.

Franziska Horn
is a design graduate and journalist who writes about her specialist focuses of Design and Modern Life

Copyright: Goethe-Institut e.V., Online-Redaktion

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September 2008