June 21, 2010 Milan
Istanbul is the current European capital of culture, so Benan's return to his Turkish roots was timely, but more than that, his questioning of his own identity went right to the issue at the heart of men's fashion. Never mind "What is a Turkish man?" How about "What is a man?"
Benan answered that question with a collection that started with the way his father used to dress. (The collection was called Home, Sweet Home.) All the trousers were high-waisted, multi-pleated, drop-crotched Turkish pants. A commercial version tied with a bow at the waist. Shirts had a band collar, and a striped caftan was straight outta Anatolia. Benan shot his lookbook with Burhan Öçal, a top Turkish musician who has recorded with Miles Davis and Pharrell Williams, among others. "If he went to his village in these clothes, he wouldn't stand out," Benan noted.
But just as traditional musical instrumentation was a launchpad for Öçal, Benan integrated traditional Turkish menswear with his own fashion aesthetic, which revolves around fluid tailoring, a creative use of skins, and an idiosyncratic color sense. They were all present in a collection that starred soft, washed-leather blousons; immaculately tailored blazers; masterful knitwear; surprisingly luxurious fabrics; and a tux jacket with a decadently, deeply draped lapel, always with the voluminous Turkish pants.
Roots or not, Benan revisited the tenets of western menswear with unexpected combinations, like a double-breasted jacket cut from ribbed jersey, a white shirt with kimono sleeves, and a parka that looked a lot like a safari jacket from the front. The immediate impression was strong, confident clothes that had a life above and beyond any national borders. And in answer to that question, "What is a man?" Let's start with the fact that he's international.