Dilek Hanif, a true Turkish fashion pioneer, has been able to translate her Anatolian cultural heritage into the global fashion scene through her creative, brave and visionary personality. She has built, from scratch, a well-respected brand through her principled and determined approach, all the while flourishing as a fashion designer, an entrepreneur, a cultural ambassador and a mother.
Her interest in fashion came to light at a very young age, when she started helping her parent’s textile business. She established her first brand, “The Dilek Hanif Line”, as early as 1990 and entered the international realm of fashion with her first Haute Couture fashion show in 2002, held in the beautiful and historical setting of the Ayaİrini Church. In 2003, Dilek was awarded “Woman Fashion Designer of the Year” for her Spring-Summer collection, which featured designs that employed traditional needle embroidery. However, in 2004, again with her Spring-Summer collection, she became the first Turkish fashion designer to show a collection at the Paris Haute Couture Week thus becoming a true pioneer of her time. In 2011, displaying great entrepreneurial spirit, she decided to launch her Ready To Wear line under the brand “Dilek Hanif”. In addition to being a Turkish brand in the international fashion industry, she has become a global brand with rising market sales, unique selling points and high quality and production capacity. Dilek Hanif designs modern and feminine dresses through a synthesis of her creative personal style, and the rich cultural legacy of the Ottomans. By successfully combining, in each collection, her traditional approach with Haute Couture design and elegance, Hanif has added a new dimension to the Turkish woman fashion scene.
Dilek Hanif Ready-to-Wear AW 17/18
Her designs, while emphasizing and celebrating femininity, stay simply elegant, avoiding exaggeration while staying full of romanticism. Her relentless pursuit of perfection in each design has resulted in each piece being recognized as a piece of art. Dilek Hanif remains a regular patron of all social causes and historical, cultural movements while placing the utmost importance on the rights of women and children, and the conservation of the cultural values of her homeland. Her Ready To Wear creations, which always carry some undertones of her Haute Couture culture, are favoured today by many world-renowned celebrities, fashion icons and personalities.
Dilek Hanif is also considered a cultural ambassador of Turkey.
Can you explain your signature style of Anatolian heritage with an international flair in more detail?
All my designs bear the DNA marks of the brand Dilek Hanif, which is to stay timeless. I enjoy creating pieces that will last through the ages, and tend to not follow any fashion trends. I prefer classic, ageless looks.
My designs are a great representation of Turkey’s culture, where east meets west. I combine the orient and Occident by using ottoman inspired embroidery work and adapt the designs for the modern world, such as ottoman vests with our cultural embroidery work interpreted for the modern fashion world. My designs are able to capture a harmony between the past and present, creating a certain quality of timelessness. They will still be beautiful even when they are worn 10 or 20 years later. Our brand has achieved great recognition world over for presenting a universal couture collection that embraces and projects the cultural aspects of Turkey and the Turkish people, making it an emblem of modern Turkey.
How does it feel knowing you made history in 2004 as the first Turkish designer to showcase within Paris Couture Fashion Week?
It was definitely difficult to enter such a well-established market especially as a Turkish fashion designer, which was previously unheard of, but the journey was worth it and the feeling was indescribable. It gave me great pride and strength to watch my collection on the runway, worn by some of the most prominent names in modelling and seen by the most prominent, and influential members of the fashion world.
How do you see in your opinion, the influential impact you created within the Turkish fashion design scene?
Thirteen years ago, after working for many years in Turkey, I started to introduce my brand to other countries. I became the first Turkish designer who participated at the Paris Couture Week. It was very exciting for me. I think, in this sense, I lead many other brands in my country to follow the same path. I usually take inspiration from my country’s culture and from its magnificent history, as well as from many branches of art. As a result, I try to use and show my whole experience in my designs.
Within your Haute Couture and Ready to Wear collections, can you explain the different approaches you apply?
They are very different in rules. Couture is limitless in the way you work with it and it has an artistic fair while in RTW technology is playing an important role. I enjoy working on both as they bring out different sides of me.
As a dresser of many A-List celebrities, whom else would you wish to dress in the future?
I have worked closely with several Hollywood celebrities over the years, and would love to dress anyone who appreciates the designs and collection. Dressing Cate Blanchett would be on top of my bucket list. I can definitely see her effortlessly pulling off some of the pieces from our SS17 and FW 17/18 collection.
Can you tell us about your past collaborations with global brands such as Chopard, L’Oreal, Walt Disney and Turkish Airlines?
It was definitely a huge honour to be associated with such renowned international brands, and it was exciting to work with each of them as they are so different from each other. It was also a huge responsibility to make sure that we capture the brand’s spirit and represent it in the best way possible through our own designers.
My Chopard took place in 2005, for the launch of their jewellery collection which was taking place in Istanbul for the first time, and it was incredibly prestigious, and such an honour for me. However, working with L’Oréal Professionnel as the Artistic director of Mythic Oil’s Edition Couture, was very satisfying as I respect their philosophy of empowering women to be more self-confident and proud of their beauty. I decided to reinterpret Mythic Oil pack in a more “Ottoman Empire” way, with and aesthetic coming from the world of Couture. I chose the black colour to make it more elegant, mysterious and luxurious.
As a regular patron of all social causes, cultural movements, as well as the importance of the rights of women and children and the conservation of the cultural values of your homeland, could you tell us more about the women and children initiatives?
I believe that, women and children have a special place in society. Everything is in relation to how families raise their children. Education starts within the family and it goes on with life experiences. This is why we should raise our children as clever, self-confident and productive people, so that they able to fight against difficulties that they will face in their future. I am not only a designer, I am a mother too, and I always tried to raise my daughters according to these principles. I live in a society that has achieved many important goals about women and children conditions. I wish that these developments will continue and will be supported by our society.
With boutiques in Turkey, Europe and Asia, as well as the Middle-East- do you plan any more in the near future, and where would they be?
I intend to strengthen my operations abroad. ‘Dilek Hanif’ is available worldwide through the online store as well as multi-brand stores such as Bergdorf Goodman and Harvey Nichols. Becoming more prominent in London is next on the plans, and we are already in the process of this. London is not just the capital of Great Britain, but the fashion capital of the world and it is a long-awaited and much-needed step for the brand, in affirming its place in the international fashion scene. In the future, I hope to have the brand available and accessible in more countries, have more standalone stores and have ‘Dilek Hanif’ be the symbol of the modern woman.