In Istanbul, self-expression can be as simple as the way you tie your hijab, doff your flat cap or always, always dye your hair.
Photographs by Lauren Fleishman
Produced by Elizabeth Bristow
Betül Altinova and Tugba Duran, 20, students
Betül: I don’t really have a style, I just find something that looks good and I wear it — skinny jeans, mom jeans. Usually, I match my hijab to my clothes. I have about 20 or 25 and they are different colors but very simple. I tie up my hijab differently based on what I am wearing and sometimes I wear a hat on top of it. When I want my outfit to pop out, I tie the hijab tight to prevent it from being main element of my outfit. The person who most influenced my clothing style is without doubt my mom. From time to time, I’m inspired by her pictures from when she was young. However, I’m also inspired from models or celebrities on Instagram. Because as we are living in an interactive world, it’s now possible to know how everyone else is dressed.
Tugba: I like cute and fluffy things but I can’t wear real fur, I love animals. I’m not kind of a person who cares much about what people think when they see me, I like to be different. I learned how to tie my hijab differently. If I’m wearing something elegant, it can be a hijab with earrings; if I am wearing casual, it can be something plain.
Irep Salci, 44, fashion accessories designer
My inspiration is freedom. Free thinking produces things that I enjoy. It’s declining but I can still find that freedom in Istanbul. Water and the Bosporus inspire me, too. Istanbul is a very cosmopolitan city where you have both the best and the worst in terms of style. It has no in-betweens. This is what makes Istanbul great; it’s a fun city.
Abdürresid Muradi, 22, corn seller
I’m from Afghanistan. I’ve been living in Turkey for three years and selling corn for two. This vest is from the municipal government and I wear it everyday. I like it a lot and it suits me well. The government gives it to us corn sellers, not to others. Sellers at different districts wear different vests.
Sena Cistak, 21, student
Since I moved to Istanbul, my style has become more modern and brave. I often dress from vintage shops. I’m active user of Instagram, but I don't have a role model for fashion.
Gizem Türk, 22, fashion design student
I’m on my way to an interview with a Turkish fashion designer. I’ve worked backstage at Mercedes Istanbul Fashion Week. I choose outfits that suit me, buying single items from each boutique. I did my hair myself.
Günseli Kato, 62, expert in Far East and Ottoman art, performance artist, university lecturer
I lived in Japan for many years and married a Japanese man. My style is avant-garde, I often wear Yamamoto and Miyake. My personality is colorful, so I wear black. For 25 years I've had blue hair. It fits my style; when I wake up in the morning, I like myself, I feel fresh.
Lazar Yakar, 78, accountant
I’m on my way home from synagogue, it’s Shabbat today. I don't wear a suit everyday. But, in general, I take care of my style. Each era has its own style; I respect that. There used to be hippies, now people wear torn clothes, which I find odd. I’m originally from Ankara, and moved to Istanbul 58 years ago.
Melis Agazat, 43, fashion director
My necklaces are vintage. I love things that have their own memory, like my city of Istanbul from the byzantine period until now. Many layers of memories have been revealed in this beautiful city. I pair classic pieces with modern ones. My style evolves and matures day by day. I have too many muses, from Michael Jackson to Virginia Woolf, from Jim Morrison to my grandmother. In the 50s and 60s, she wore her mink fur with a tailored suit from Yves Saint Laurent on an ordinary day. I remember her in diamonds and rubies at our breakfast table. She taught me how to organically wear jewelry in my daily life because she wore hers every hour of the day.
Cengizhan Kayi, 23, model
I chose my trousers based on my mood.
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