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Talking Turkey

The Fashion Set Touches Down in Istanbul for Its Annual Arts and Culture Festival

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Demet Muftuoglu Eseli and Alphan Eseli   
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Not all the action in the Mediterranean last weekend was in Cannes—some thousand miles to the east, fashion-oriented festivities were happening at the annual Istanbul Arts and Culture Festival. Instead of Champagne on the Croisette, it was sunset cocktails on a private dock, where the evening call to prayer mingled with the sounds of ferries chugging up and down the Bosphorus.

Mario Sorrenti, visiting Istanbul for the first time, was trying to get a grip on his surroundings. "It's such a crazy mixture," he told Style.com. "It could be San Francisco, it could be Europe—you don't know where you are. It's a really weird thing." Earlier that day, in front of an audience at the Vakko headquarters, Cecilia Dean had led the photographer through a retrospective of his work for Visionaire and V. Now, in a renovated warehouse made of glass and ancient brick, Dean and the Visionaire higher-ups were exhibiting pages from their latest issue, billed as the world's largest magazine.

Upstairs, three long tables were elegantly set for dinner. Violinist Charlie Siem took a moment out of his performance to serenade Stephen Gan, who occupied the center of the room with Carine Roitfeld and festival organizers Demet Muftuoglu Eseli and Alphan Eseli. Later, the crowd flowed back downstairs, where a team from the Boom Boom Room had installed bunches of gold balloons and flown their own DJ and waitress uniforms over for a one-night-only re-creation. Dean, who had a few more days in Istanbul, literally let her hair down. On her list of things to do? A photo shoot with Sorrenti and some shopping in the Grand Bazaar. "I need to get me some harem pants," she said—"the real thing."

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