Top image: LCF pre-collection by Ali Ekmekci
Meet Ali Ekmekci, the young Turkish designer on a mission to seek truth and empowerment in today’s volatile media landscape. With a focus on how the manipulation of language can influence, abuse and give rise to certain individuals, the final-year student at London College of Fashion produced a collection exploring the media’s relationship with capitalism and how that impacts our communal perception. Ekmekci repurposed found materials with the aim to subvert and reinvent existing cultural symbols, revealing the constructs that lie beneath the headlines.
Working with photographer Pablo Di Prima and graphic designer Andreas Pappamikail, the designer went back to nature to shoot his pre-collection. Modelled by rising illustrator King Owusu, the images – exclusively premiering here – invite the viewer to pause for a moment and focus on whats real: the grass, the sky, our planet, Earth.
Nazanin Shahnavaz: Can you tell me a little bit about your trajectory into fashion?
Ali Ekmekci: My trajectory began in Amsterdam, I assisted fashion editors Sonny Groo and Jean-Paul Paula. That’s when I first learned about the backbone of the industry, it was such an amazing experience to be a part of the melting pot of talent there. Though, I really wanted learn about traditional garment making so I moved to Paris to study at Academie L’international de Coupe de Paris, where I developed my tailoring skills and an eye for material. I’m now in the final year of my BA degree at London College of Fashion, learning more about the image making process and cultural studies.
Nazanin: What is your manifesto as a designer?
Ali: My manifesto focuses on our ability to transform and subvert meanings through the language of performance and accumulation of cultural capital, made available to us from popular culture whatever our condition or circumstances. This approach involves deconstruction through transformation to empowerment.
Nazanin: The title of your pre-collection, Fake News, is highly charged. What are some of the themes that you explored?
Ali: The major theme is the language the media uses to abuse or empower individuals, reinterpreted through performance. I explored this through the definitions of media and performance in the late-capitalist era and the ways in which they have transformed and enlarged the range of our perceptions. Another theme that I explored was the notion of collaboration; by combining different perspectives, it became this great tool for giving new meanings to the garments.
“The major theme is the language the media uses to abuse or empower individuals, reinterpreted through performance.”
LCF pre-collection by Ali Ekmekci
Nazanin: How do these ideas manifest in the clothes?
Ali: For my bags, shoes, accessories, embroidery and knitwear I’ve collaborated with more than ten designers across UAL. Most of the pieces that I worked on were created from the waste fabric up-cycled across UAL and Industrial products that were available to me. I’ve also used the reputation of existing logos and symbols such Coca-Cola ads or newspaper print as a blueprint. I looked at how they exploited consumers through the media system and reinvented them for my own empowerment. It resulted in an awareness of how these symbols affect my life and has given me back a sense of control.
Nazanin: Do you think fashion is an appropriate tool to comment on such issues?
Ali: In a world where objective facts are trumped by personal beliefs in politics, creating hybrid representations of identities could be a way to contribute the objective truth.
Nazanin: Your choice of fabric and silhouettes are very striking, can you talk me through the inspiration and decisions behind these elements?
Ali: My inspiration stemmed from the album I’m Still In The Night by Salem. I love the way they play and reinvent symbols of popular culture. For example, they did a Britney Spears remix and totally deconstructed the track revealing the darker underlying structure of the song.
Nazanin: What can we expect from your graduate collection?
Ali: Everything is evolving with each shoot and increasingly the people that I work with introduce me to new techniques and perspectives, my aim is to continue learning and creating hybrid representations of the media.
LCF pre-collection by Ali Ekmekci
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