Haakan Yıldırım Presents “Letters I Wrote to Mahizer” AW21 at Fashion Week Istanbul by Aybuke Barkcin


Dear Shaded Viewers,

In times of uncertainty, what inspires you?

For Haakan Yıldırım, it was a revisit to his roots and past.

Haakan Yıldırım, the well-established Turkish designer recently revealed his AW21 collection called “Letters I Wrote to Mahizer” during Fashion Week Istanbul. The collection is an emotional and personal take on the designer’s heritage, drawing inspiration from the traditional fabrics of Turkish nomads in Anatolia and giving them a modern take.

The highlight of the collection was the use of cotton flannel or in Turkish pazen; a colourfully decorated thick fabric traditionally worn by female nomads in Anatolia. Today, the fabric can be found all around Turkey and has become a symbol for the Anatolian women… a design which gives a feeling of warmth and a feeling of return to the rural life.

“Like the awareness and acceptance of my loyalties, roots, and this collective consciousness, in such times that disable us from determining our direction in a state of hovering, hanging in the air. Maybe that is the very reason why I’ve carried this collection with me for so many years hesitant, readying to conceive it. With prejudice and a vague arrogance, the Flannel, whom I’ve loved from afar, was resting inside, in my heart, in my mind and in my hands, finally moving up to tell its story through me.” said Mr. Yıldırım in his press review.

Another feature of the collection was the use of Turkish lace or oya, which decorated the headscarfs of the models and their hair braided with evil eye beadings. Consisting of various narrow lace trimmings, in the past young girls used wear the lace decorated headscarfs to convey their emotions, hopes and expectations. Inspired by nature motifs, over time the lace craft became a secret language for women and today the craft continues to have a presence in everyday wear for women living in the Turkish countryside.

“This collection has basted itself into me as if basting itself onto a quilt, showing me that we are not hanging in the air, hovering in uncertainty, we are attached to something much older than ourselves, the very old ways, states of ourselves, our being.” said the designer.

The break from traditions came from the geometric constructions of the garments which explored territories around like a surrealist escape… always returning to its origin. While some silhouettes remained organic, others felt more restrictive. But always innovative. Exaggerated shoulders created a powerful presence for the models, while some were encompassed like cocoons unable to move. For me, the construction reminded me the lives of the Anatolian women. Women who live in endless free land and make a living in nature, but yet women whose lives are restricted with traditions, as their roles in society are determined for them… unable to change.

Haakan Yıldırım was the clear winner of Fashion Week Istanbul. The humble dress code of women in the Turkish countryside was turned into couture. A fresh and an innovative take on tradition. Bravo!


Aybuke Barkcin

Aybüke Barkçin is an art director, photographer, curator and writer that looks at fashion through the lens of political and societal dynamics. She completed her master's Creative Direction in POLIMODA, Italy and has a background in International Relations and Graphic Design. Her work can be found in her website: https://www.aybukebarkcin.com/