Bora Aksu was one of those design talents that was immediately hailed as one to watch upon showing his first collections in London, the city that he made his home after graduating from the prestigious Central Saint Martin’s training as a designer. Turkish-born Bora established his label immediately upon graduation and its collections were greeted with much enthusiasm by the great and the powerful amongst fashion critics.
There followed a slew of awards and being stocked by the world’s top stores. Aksu also extended himself beyond the traditional parameters of fashion, trying his hand at costume design for contemporary dance. Perhaps it was this more theatrical experience that led him to work with the Artisan Armour Group, the company that produced the costume armour for films like ‘Troy’, ‘Alexander’ and ‘King Arthur’. Bora Aksu’s own nod to age-old craft of protective battle wear cropped up as sculptural one-off leather and armour body pieces in his 2007 collection, much to the delight of the audience and media.
So, it was no surprise that, once again, his show on the first day of London Fashion Week attracted a lot of interested observers.
What they found was a collection inspired by the New Romantics, early twentieth century Italian photographer Wanda Wulz and Edwardian men’s tailoring. It flowed down the catwalk in a soft palette of greys and shimmering silvers, muted pewter and platinum offset by bright bursts of emerald green, itself something of an Edwardian favourite. Certainly the New Romantic dress-up games with formal wear were in evidence; silhouettes referencing the tuexedo, for example, though hardly the traditional black version. In Bora Aksu’s hands, we were instead offered a combo in gunboat grey and black and contrasts between transparency and the heavy texture of complex aerated fabrics.
But, the bow, much in evidence as a bow-tie, seemed to become something of a leitmotif that ran through the collection, appearing at the neck, at the waist and even as a device pulling large pockets closed. If the starting point was Edwardian men’s tailoring, it was soon turned into something extremely feminine. Many of the skirts were on the knee and quite a few showed a flared puffed-up silhouette reminiscent of various looks from the 1980’s; the Sonia Henie skating variety and Cyndy Lauper style folksy fun. Overall, however, the collection reflected a general trend this season for hemlines of a broad variety. There was also an equal balance between extremely symmetric garments and those showing a distinctly asymmetrical bent emphasised through dramatic drapery or heavy knitted detail.
But, as much as Edwardian, there was something distinctly Renaissance in it all. Perhaps it was the wimple-like headdresses with their under-the-chin straps or the dresses with armour-like patterns. Whatever the reason it seems that Bora Asku has a bit of an ongoing preoccupation with history going a lot further back than the nineteenth century.