We meet Dilek Hanif, a true Turkish fashion pioneer, who has been able to translate her Anatolian cultural heritage into the global fashion scene through her creative, brave and visionary personality. Dilek has recently presented Spring/Summer 2018 Ready-To-Wear and Fall/Winter 2018 Couture collections during an intimate high tea and fashion show at Palazzo Versace Hotel, Dubai.
What was the biggest challenge while working on these collections?
The biggest challenge about my collections is always multi-tasking. Each year we are presenting two different collections at the same time. In addition to our RTW and Couture lines, time-to-time we have special collaborations with Turkish fashion brands, we join global fashion fairs, do special projects for foundations, etc. Each season, as a part of our growth strategy, we do catwalks abroad like the one we have done in Dubai. So it is difficult to manage so many activities at the same time.
Considering Turkey to be one of the reference points that inspire you most, what are your favorite Turkish traditions?
My favorite Turkish tradition is Turkish coffee. I cannot start my day without drinking one! I love Turkish cuisine as well. As you may know, we are very lucky, Turkish cuisine is really rich and flavourful. I obviously love kebab, but my absolute favourite would be seafood!
We also have traditions of our own in the atelier. Especially for our couture wedding gown clients, we love to throw some rice grains at the bride on the last fitting. This means that we wish the bride and the groom good luck, love, prosperity and life-long abundance.
Where do you prefer to travel?
Vacation is very important for me, because it is the only time of the year that I can reset my mind and gain inspiration. My first preference would be Göcek. Other than Göcek, I love Bodrum and Çeşme for their natural beauty but I prefer the low season when it is not too crowded.
I love Italy as well. Capri, Forte dei Marmi and Borgo Egnazia would be my other choices.
Your professional journey started in 1990. What were the biggest achievements and the biggest challenges on this path?
I believe my biggest achievement and the biggest challenge are the same. I’m the first Turkish designer who has showcased in Paris, during Paris Couture Week, 10 years in a row. It was the most exciting and proud moment of my life. Nowadays showing your collections worldwide is perhaps not considered anything great but back than it was really something. Being the first comes with great responsibility. It was the beginning of a new, international chapter in my professional journey and I’m trying to live up to that since then. That opened up a new world for me. It is really hard work and you have to raise the bar each time.
How have your personal style and taste changed during these years?
I like elegant yet simple clothes, fabrics, accessories. You can see the reflection of this style in my collections as well. Ofcourse the fashion trends have come and gone with time, but I believe style is something that remains.
Who is the woman you admire most?
There are many women I admire throughout history. To name one, I’d say Coco Chanel for making her mark in the world considering her era.
What are your duties being a cultural ambassador of Turkey?
My main duty is to represent my country through shows all around the world and show how powerful Turkey is in terms of both fashion design and manufacturing. As a successful business woman, I believe one of my most important duties is to represent Turkish women in the right way as well.
Combining all these roles (an entrepreneur, a cultural ambassador and even a mother at the same time), how do you manage to put the borders between your work and private life?
I have two beautiful daughters, a very loving family and a job that I love so much. I try my best to do all at the same-time, but this means waiving me-time.
How does your regular weekend look like?
Since my weekdays are crazy, I try my weekends to be calm and smooth. I read, meet some friends and family. I try to have the me-time that I have to waive during weekdays.
What is the book you are reading now?
“Your Second Life Begins When You Discover You Only Have One” by Raphaelle Giordano
Follow Dilek: @dilekhanif