Perhaps it was his entranced gaze as he watched the band play or the attachment his clothes demonstrated to every day Turks, but it seemed Umit Benan was feeling a deep sense of nostalgia.
Milan's Teatro Franco Parenti, which also occasionally hosts the city's vintage clothing market, was the perfect stage to recreate the last days of the Ottoman Empire. If nothing else, Benan invested a lot of effort into offering spectators a sense of place.
Music emanating from authentic Turkish instruments filled the room as guests snacked on Turkish nuts and sweets. Just when we thought belly dancers were going to dance across the runway, fez-topped, masked models holding cocktails or walking sticks in their hands, emerged from a dark Ottoman tower prop.
Caftans, shop keeper like coats, pleated pants and three piece suits with an aged, unfinished effects strolled down the runway. Olive, khaki and burgundy colored the canvas of this somber tale, while patterns of pinstripes and windowpane checks were overshadowed by the overall presentation. Towards the second half, stiff bombers and field jackets thwarted us into European urban modernity.
Formal wear possessed an effortless sophistication unique to the Milan catwalk this season. And just like Turkey's contentious entrance into the European Union, it was ambiguous as to how European this collection really is. Maybe part of Umit's success is indeed this Turkish charm and great passion towards his roots that sets him apart from the rest.
- Sofia Celeste