Purple Magazine
— The Essence of Fashion Issue #41 S/S 2024

dilara findikoglu







Young Turkish designer Dilara Findikoğlu melds her romantic Victorian sensibility with influences from goth, metal, and punk subcultures. Part of London’s creative underground, she personifies a fashion ideal of unapologetic and fearless femininity.


OLIVIER ZAHM — What’s your experience as a young designer in London coming from Turkey? Is it difficult, or is it a good place to start a company?

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — I moved to London when I was 19, so I don’t know what it is compared with anywhere else because I haven’t lived anywhere else since then. I studied at Central Saint Martins, so I was already in the fashion circle even as a student. But as a female designer and someone who is not European, I feel I had to work harder than anyone else. I’m not saying this from a bad place, and I don’t feel like a victim at all. I love what I do, and I’m creating my dreams in real life, which is a blessing, especially when I look at the world right now. People are dealing with bigger problems in their lives. And I’m the type of person who, if I want something, I just go for it, whatever comes my way. I really put a lot of effort into what I’m doing. Whatever I was dreaming when I was a kid in Turkey, I’m living it right now.

OLIVIER ZAHM — In Paris, we have the feeling that London is a great place for young designers. Central Saint Martins is a wonderful incubator for emerging designers, and it looks more creative than what we have in Paris.

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — I think it’s a great place to be creative, but I’m not sure it’s a great place if you want to pursue the business. The biggest problem is that they teach you how to be creative at Saint Martins, but they don’t teach you how to make money or how to run a business. Most of the people who are super creative and start a business fail along the way because they go into massive debt just to be able to maintain quality. If you don’t get investment and funding, everything falls apart. A lot of designers face the same thing. The support system for young designers in London is also a little bit like continuing university in a way. And I have to be honest: I’ve never been part of any of it because I have a phobia of applying for any kind of mentorship. I always try to do things on my own because I believe that I can achieve what I want better that way than by being a part of something. It just doesn’t suit my personality. Thankfully, following my own path and my own rules has worked out. Maybe it was a little bit more difficult, but at least now I’m 33 years old, and I can say that I feel super powerful, having done everything on my own. Now I am very well connected with everyone, so we’re at the stage where we can get investment and produce in Italy. Before, it was my small team and I who did everything.

OLIVIER ZAHM — What you said resonates with Purple because, as an independent magazine, we’re in the same situation. At the end of the day, being independent is a condition for creativity.

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — Exactly. Being independent gives you freedom and makes you work even more creatively toward finding solutions and being able to create whatever you have in mind. You might not have the right budget or the right support, but you make it happen anyway. And having the investment and support now, I can create anything I want.

ALEPH MOLINARI — How do you deal with the business side of your brand?

DILARA FINDIKOGˇLU — To be honest, it hasn’t been that difficult. We’ve done some commercial projects along the way. It wasn’t super successful financially at the beginning, but because we managed to put our aesthetic out there, and we have a strong language, now we can even make the plainest t-shirt and be able to sell it. I didn’t know that I had to do commercial pieces because we were looking up to people like John Galliano, Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen, and Comme des Garçons, who obviously make creative things. At university, they would give examples of these people, but they wouldn’t show how the fuck they do the business side. So, I’ve kind of figured it out along the way. And I’m still learning.

ALEPH MOLINARI — You canceled your fashion show this season three days before the show. What happened?

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — We canceled the show two weeks before. We honestly didn’t have the budget to do another show that was going to be around 120k. Obviously I’m creative, but I’m also a careful businesswoman. I have to look after this brand if I want to stay. So, it was a business decision that I had to make, and honestly, I’m so happy I didn’t do the show. It gave me so much power, and I think it encouraged so many other young designers who I talked to about this. Other designers canceled their show in the same season, but no one talks about it. It was a big relief, but I also felt so vulnerable because trying to look strong can be exhausting. Being so honest and open didn’t come easy, but I feel like vulnerability is an important strength that everyone should try. It could be difficult, but that is our actual strength, to be who we are and to tell the truth. It’s really, really important. We are lucky to be creating these dreamworlds, and the least we can do is be fucking honest.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Let’s speak about a fashion icon, John Galliano. You worked as an intern for him. How would you describe John?

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — He is one of the most important names in fashion. He lives in a world that he creates, and lives and breathes that world. I think that’s why he is one of the strongest names in fashion. He made people believe in the world that he created and become a part of it. Everyone wanted to become a part of this theater and drama that he was trying to create. For me, that is so important because that is how I live my life, too.

OLIVIER ZAHM — You don’t separate work from life?

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — It’s important for me to have my personal world around me. I’m a daydreamer, and my house has to reflect that. My studio, my clothes, and my shows are a whole world, and I want people to come and experience it. When they buy a piece, they become part of the world.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Fashion is about creating a dreamworld. How would you describe your world, the one you are navigating and inviting everyone into?

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — I think there are two ways to describe it. Fashion is obviously about creating a world, but for me, it’s two things: it’s creating the world that I want to live in, and it’s also self-expression. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wear the things I wanted to because I was living in my Muslim environment. So expressing myself through sexy clothing or not wearing anything is my silent protest. I feel like some designers don’t dress or style themselves in the way they design, but that’s important to me. I get inspired by the way I dress because I was told when I was a kid, “Girls can’t do this, girls can’t wear that.” Or they would throw away my miniskirts, and I wouldn’t be able to wear them at school. This oppression has made me look more toward the clothes I design and wear. So, for me, that’s self-expression, and it’s such an important part of my life. If I could wear the sheerest stuff every day, I would, even to go to work. It’s not about showing my skin to anyone — I just want to be free. I wish I could go around topless, you know what I mean?

OLIVIER ZAHM — So, fashion is a form of liberation for you?

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — I was looking for freedom — maybe freedom through clothes or freedom for my body. Fashion was literally where I could create it, however I could. I first started designing clothes and how I wanted to wear them, and now I can create this world and live in it however I want to.

OLIVIER ZAHM — For you, what’s the role of fashion beyond producing clothes?

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — I love modern reality, but at the same time, I want to create a world that is a little bit more magical than what is given to us. I don’t want to see and accept war in the world. There are children losing their families, parents losing their children. The scale of the problems that they’re dealing with cannot be compared with whatever we’re dealing with in fashion. I create characters who are fighting for freedom, fighting for the body, fighting for equality. So, the realistic side of me is the fighter who is trying to achieve the peace I want, and the world I create already has that peace.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Fashion is liberating, and it’s about freedom. But fashion is also redefining freedom because freedom is constantly attacked or in danger. Freedom has to be constantly redefined, reshaped, and reimagined in 2024. We are not in the ’60s or ’70s anymore, when they had different visions of freedom.

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — Of course. Freedom is reimagined throughout your life. Mainly whatever freedom meant to you when you were a kid… It could be completely different. For me, freedom is not always the answer to everything because it’s a double-edged sword. It has the dark side and the light side. When you have too much freedom, it could also feel scary. It could be like an empty blank space. What are you going to do when you are in that freedom? I feel like the nature of being a human is being connected to things. You can’t be 100% free. You have to be attached to something. I’m looking for freedom, but I’m still attached to my job. I don’t want to imagine a life where I’m not creating. I’m attached to being creative, so I can’t be freed from that. So, there are so many different ways of being free.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Absolutely. There’s also a dark side to your work. Listening to you, I think fashion is actually a source of hope or optimism, even though your collection could be seen as dark.

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — It’s dark because I am very much inspired by the things that people might perceive as dark. Anything that is not three-dimensional for people feels dark. But for me, that’s where I find peace. It might not feel healing for some people, but it is healing for me. I feel like I’m trying to heal the current situation through the darkness that I give. It could be seen as darkness, but I don’t think it is. Obviously, there are some things that I look at that people might find weird and abstract or whatever. But for me, it’s heaven.

OLIVIER ZAHM — How do you see the connection between fashion and entertainment, or between fashion and pop culture? Now the credibility of a fashion designer is largely established when a celebrity wears their clothes. Is there an abuse of power from pop culture toward design, or is it a good match for you?

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — It can help you, but it can also destroy you because it pushes you to a point where, when someone doesn’t wear your product, it becomes less valuable. For me — and no offense to any artist in the world — fashion designers are the ones who create culture. We create culture, and we create this world, but we are waiting for approval from someone who is creating something else. I don’t want to only be relevant after a celebrity wears one of my things. I don’t believe in this at all. I want to dress the people I choose. Unfortunately, now more than ever, young designers need the visibility, even though sometimes that visibility is not always so relevant. I don’t approve that celebrities are chosen as creative directors for big brands — because why do we study, and why do we give everything then? We give our hearts and souls to this craft, so it’s disappointing and disheartening to see someone being chosen for a certain role just because they are famous. But I feel like the industry is changing so much, and the future could be different.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Which favorite singer, actor, or artist would you love to see wearing your clothes?

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — The person I’d love to dress is already dead. [Laughs] I’ve dressed the people who I really, really love. Obviously, a few people are left. I’ve been a big Madonna fan my entire life. She was a pioneer for so many things, and she was also quite controversial because she was sexual, and she used her sexuality within her work. She’s 65 and still fucking fighting, which is quite amazing. So, I’m happy to have worked with her. Another person I wish I could dress is Marlene Dietrich. She was a pioneer being a woman wearing a suit. And Marie-Antoinette, but she’s dead, too. What can I do? [Laughs] There are a lot of amazing young people who I’m working with and I have dressed. I’m really hopeful about the new generation because I’ve been seeing so many great, independent people, queer artists with a very personal aesthetic. So, that really excites me. Obviously, looking back at the history of these iconic names is amazing, but I’m also so happy to collaborate with the artists and musicians around me who are doing amazing things.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Because at the end of the day, you are able to create your own community.

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — Exactly. I’m trying to create this Dilara world and make everyone a part of it. I notice that young kids dress a bit like my older collections with corsets — a bit theatrical, a bit punky, a bit dark, and inspired by an ’80s goth aesthetic mixed with more modern stuff. It’s really exciting to see. For example this artist I follow, Maria Roi. She’s based in Berlin and is only 19, and does TikTok videos that I’m obsessed with. I messaged her and gave her clothes. It’s important to create a community.

OLIVIER ZAHM — What is the most important word for you that would define fashion? Could it be “change”?

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — Fashion is cul­ture. It defines movements, societies, and ideas. It defines your musical taste and how you feel. In the future, I would like my clothes to be remem­bered as an aesthetic, as an idea. Because I have a point of view, and I try to give these state­ments through the clothes. I want my clothes to make my bum look good and my waist smaller, but also to say something fuck­ing insane.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Absolutely. We are very happy to have you in this issue.

DILARA FINDIKOGLU — I’m a big fan of Purple, honestly. You guys are so amazing.


[Table of contents]

The Essence of Fashion Issue #41 S/S 2024

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