• Text Jake Hall
  • Photography Emily Malan
  • 16th February 2020


Hysteria. It’s worth remembering that this term for madness was gendered female for centuries, used exclusively to describe women whose behaviour fell outside of society’s expectations of femininity. For FW20, Dilara Findikoglus staged a grandiose tribute to these women – amongst them Sylvia Plath and “criminally underrated” French artist Camille Claudel – in the form of a dinner party, where wine-stained tables were scattered with fruit and cigarette butts. Models toyed with the set – and the guests – accordingly, winking suggestively and flirting their way through the show.

The clothes themselves were a collage of references: mini-crinis and hoop skirts lifted straight from 17th century France were nestled amongst prints scanned from Victorian pieces in Findikoglu’s own wardrobe. Think how Marie Antoinette would dress if she ruled the Ottoman Empire, and you’re on the right track.

The designer paid tribute to her Turkish roots too, draping belly dancer chains over nude chiffon and super-short skirt suits. Accessories like these weren’t just beautiful, they were smart. Despite the couture draping techniques and gloriously overblown silhouettes, there were bags, the occasional t-shirt and chain-link belts which dangled the letters: DILARA. 

It’s telling that the designer used a collection dedicated to the misunderstood women of history to explore her own heritage, and her own psyche. As models stomped out to a finale of Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation, the parallels between Findigoklu and these unapologetic, creative women became crystal clear.