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Istanbul Contrast

Created as an exclusive set of dresses inspired by the city of Istanbul, the Dice Kayek Istanbul Contrast exhibition launched in 2010, and was presented in musuems around the world. It was also shortlisted for The Victoria & Albert Museum Jameel Prize 3, making Dice Kayek the first fashion house ever to be nominated for the international art and design award.

The exhibition launched at Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris as part of the main closing events of the Turkish Season in France, before travelling to the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art for Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture events. In 2012 Istanbul Contrast visits the Amsterdam Museum, as part of events celebrating the 400th year of diplomatic and cultural relations.

After winning the Jameel Prize 3 in 2013, a dedicated exhibition for the winners opens in Hermitage-Kazan Museum, in the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia before travelling to the Museum of Islamic Civilisation in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

And what was the inspiration behind such richly detailed pieces?

“For us, Istanbul has always been a paradox bridging east and west, tradition and modernity.” says Ece Ege, Creative Director. “Istanbul Contrast reflects that paradox - emphasising the essence of the historic city's architectural, artistic and cultural heritage, revisiting aesthetic elements from the Ottoman era and contrasting them with bold contemporary forms.

Istanbul is a complicated, beautiful, flawed, eclectic city. From the haunting grandeur of the historic monuments, the domes of mosques, the imposing Galata Bridge to the noises and colours of the markets, the tastes and smells of our childhood, the Bosphorus uniting East and West, the city remains a kaleidoscope of colour, texture, history and architecture. The ultimate moodboard.”

The Hagia Sophia dress, a contemporary interpretation of the impressive archangel Gabriel is one of the strongest pieces of the collection, showing different layers of civilization from the Byzantine era through the Ottoman Empire. Entirely hand stitched, the complex embroidery of this coat bows down to the extraordinary mosaic work at Hagia Sophia, while also aiming to embody the historical complexity of this monument. A unique symbol of peaceful coexistence of confessions, Hagia Sophia is one of only places of worship generous enough to host two religions and their iconography, Orthodox Christianity and Islam.

Galata Bridge, spanning the Golden Horn like its ancestor built by Justinian the Great in the 6th Century, is also transformed into an architectural dress, reminiscent of the unrealised designs of Leonardo da Vinci’s Golden Horn Bridge.

Memories of Istanbul are not only visual: Tastes and scents are also important triggers. Scents and symbolic meanings of flowers, often depicted in Ottoman imagery, have been influential for this collection.

The tulip symbolizes abundance, indulgence and Istanbul’s historic position as a hub; while the magnolia, the forerunner of spring, refers to Istanbul’s feminine charm and fragility.

The omnipresence of birds also evokes thoughts of the maritime character of Istanbul, connecting distant seas. Doves, symbolising peace and messengers, lent their wings to a pure white coat in the collection.

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Istanbul Contrast Exhibitions

The Ritz Hotel, Collection’s inaugural display, Paris Fashion Week, 2009.
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Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in the framework of the Turkish Season in France, 2010.
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Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, in conjunction with Istanbul European Capital of Culture, 2010.
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The Amsterdam Museum in the scope of the 400th year of diplomatic and cultural relations between Turkey and Holland, 2011.
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The Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The Dice Kayek dresses, “Hagia Sophia”, “Caftan” and “Dome”, were exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 11 December 2013 to 21 April 2014.
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The Hermitage-Kazan Museum, in the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, from 21 May, to 17 August 2014.

Moscow State Exhibition Hall «New Manege», Moscow, Russia, from 11 October to 23.

The Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, from 11 March to 6 June 2015.
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National Library, Singapore, from 1 October to 30 November 2015.

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"For us, Istanbul has always been a paradox bridging east and west, tradition and modernity. The Istanbul Contrast collection reflects that paradox - emphasising the essence of the historic city's architectural, artistic and cultural heritage, revisiting aesthetic elements from the Ottoman era and contrasting them with bold contemporary forms."