Crafting Identity Through Fashion: Burç Akyol’s Reflective Runway Journey

Dear Shaded Viewers,

Burç Akyol’s profoundly personal show notes struck a chord with me, delving into the current state of fashion in France. Surprisingly, I learned of the closure of Studio Bercot, one of Paris’s oldest fashion schools, forever altering the city’s sartorial landscape. Akyol, who wrote the notes in English, revealed that he honed the language by immersing himself in mix tapes featuring the likes of the Fugees, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Simon and Garfunkel. The very same tunes serenaded us before the show unfolded.

Named “Made in Dreux,” Akyol’s collection pays homage to his roots in the western town of Paris. As the French son of a Turkish tailor, he faced the challenges of a place steeped in history yet marred by a turbulent present. During his formative years, it stood as the third-largest drug hub in the country. Akyol’s journey led him through the esteemed ateliers of Christian Dior, Balenciaga, and most recently Esteban Cortazar. Remarkably, he secured the Fashion Trust Arabia Prize in 2022, and the year prior, he stood on the shortlist for the prestigious LVMH Prize.

The collection stands as a poignant reflection on how the harshness of an environment and the suppression of emotions find expression in various artistic forms—art, performance, music, culture, and, notably, fashion. Symbolizing this evolution, Akyol shifted from the courtyard of his Paris atelier to the top floor of the Institut du Monde Arabe for his second on-calendar show, offering a sweeping view of Paris as a metaphorical canvas.

Akyol’s collection boldly embraces a genderless narrative. Panné velvet, a resurgence from the 1970s, graces this season’s offerings, manifesting in a striking long silvery white dress—a testament to the designer’s innovative approach to timeless elegance.

Later,

Diane
If you want to take the time, please read his text below:

“MADE IN DREUX”

These are hard times for small, independent businesses. You may have heard, Studio Berçot, a very good historic French fashion school closed for good. They had ongoing financial issues and like so many independent structures, fell under the harsher and harsher economic reality of France. This of course resonates deeply with me because as a young independent brand, every day is a matter of life or death. Berçot was not my school but many of my seniors had been there, my partner was a student, many friends were. Among them a young girl from Dreux, like me, French with Turkish parents like me, with big dreams of Fashion, like me. She found me through friends of my parents and explained their school closing now meant she had not yet discovered how to put together a portfolio and no contractual possibility to find an internship with Parisian Maisons. We’ve been working together for several months, every Monday for one hour, guiding her in knowing herself better and shaping her work clearly. Of course, I want to help because I have been there. I also arrived to Paris, from Dreux with hopes, big dreams and resilience in my luggage. Working with her made me realize how similar our thoughts and what we experienced were. The brutality of our environment pushed us into various fields of expression because saying those things plainly was not an option. Dreux is a small town with a bad reputation. First ever extreme-right mayor of France in the 80’s due mainly to an important presence of immigrants which our families were part of. We lived in the outskirts and grew up with this feeling of not belonging entirely. The outside brutality forged in us another brutal and vital force but suppressed communication skills. We turned to practices, to dancing, acting, singing, sketching, tagging, to anything that helped say our inner thoughts. We also built a strong sense of community and talking to Asya, this is her name, revived so many emotions and core memories that are so intrinsic to me that I had stopped trying to understand them.

Those strong memories shaped into a collection that is indeed made in Dreux because I realized I was myself made in Dreux, my core sensitivity was built there and then. The one object I took with me apart from clothes was a tape called “Best of Love”, a mixtape of all the hit love ballads of 1996. I kept it as a totem and listened to the tape on my train ride to Paris. You’re actually listening to these songs right now while we are getting ready for you. Killing me softly by The Fugees, Open Arms by Mariah Carey, Whitney, Michael, Simon & Garfunkel and more. I swear the bittersweetness and the excitement of that final ride to Paris is indescribable and I am so grateful Asya made me realize how lucky I had been. Then, this collection is a sort of Best of Love, it’s too soon and pretentious to understand this as a lookback and it has nothing to do with that, it’s really more a sense of growth in me, something I feel deep in my skin like a mutation (the past year has taught me so much and made me and my company grow) that I felt like within the hurricane some pillars needed to be asserted and cherished and perfected like some encouragement and accompanying words to myself and my vocabulary in a purer way. It is a warm discipline; it is guidance towards my future. It is also a natural response in the face of adversity, even the clothes speak to you to remind you that “we are strong like cutting swords”, that even when you are tired there is at the end only “the way”, one path you chose, and you must stick to because perseverance is a train you must not jump off! As we are growing categories, to remember to sign them with as much strength and self. At the end, I am tailoring for you.

I would like to dedicate this collection to Patrick Hierf, who taught us design at IFM. He passed away too soon this year, but he was a light at the end of the tunnel for so many students, his helping hand is a life-moto we carry on like a banner.

Let me thank Monsieur Jack Lang, the President of the Institut du Monde Arabe, Philippe Castro his director of cabinet and the entire team here for another main tendue. I could not have staged this show without their kindness and support in such a beautiful and meaningful place. It is truly an honor. Now you know why I am obsessed with hands; they are our most human side.

Original Music by Legacy @Legacymusicfr

Thank you to AHLEM for their jewelry-like sunglasses, and ADIEU for the stumping steady shoes.

SPECIAL THANKS TO

LAETITIA LEPORCQ, BEN GRIMES, MAXIME VALENTINI, ARANZA BELLIARD, LEGACY, MARGAUX POSER, ALEXANDRE POSER, LUCIA NORO, CARLO CARRADORE, GONZALO RODRIGUEZ CABALLERO, LUCAS MOISSET, ANNE BERTEMES, MARCOS BESSA, KARLA OTTO, LAUREN BOS, NICOLAS PHILIPPON, ARTLIST PARIS MARIE DEBAECKER AND TWOTWENTY PRODUCTIONS, MARJOLAINE HURIET, LILI DEMAILLE, KLARA, THOMAS VILLACA, ALEXANDRA VALLÉE, ANTHONY GOUJJANE, YANN CATHELINAUD, LEANDER AIGUIER, PAUL ALEXANDER REISINGER, L’INSTITUT FRANÇAIS DE LA MODE, SARAH MOWER, SARA MAINO, JODIE RICCOBONO, ALEXANDRA BERYLSTEIN, ABDUL GAFFAR, SANDRA BILLON, PAULINE FERT, JULIETTE FERT, L’INSTITUT DU MONDE ARABE, MY FAMILY, JONATHAN CARRETTA AND HUGO FERROUX

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Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.

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