Vibrant Funk and Ottoman Punk: Les Benjamins in Milan for MFW

By now, many know that I am a child of juxtaposition.

I get a kick out of things that don’t traditionally belong together. And I salivate at seeing the combination of something extraordinarily disparate, whether its a succulent bite or an epic fashion line.

les benjamins milan istanbul fashion week mfw mmfw @sssourabh

There is a lot of conversion between cultures happening, and having graced fashion weeks from West to East, I have seen inspirations from across the oceans that have worked in collaboration with each other to further shrink the world. Perhaps with a subtle message of promoting togetherness and community, global nomads like myself are probably the most content with the treasures of cross pollination.

Les Benjamins, a 5 year old Istanbul based brand, is by Bunyadin Avdin, who aspired to create a melting pot of cultures with his style and design statement. With a Milanese debut at Milan Fashion Week (MFW) called Ottoman Punk, it was visually striking entry with funky vibrancy inspired by its Turkish heritage, as well as icons from both the East and West.

The presentation was gaped at from above, like princesses in the Dolmabahce Palace of Istanbul peering at the dancers, forbidden from doing so, but enjoying every minute of it. Sufi whirling dervishes in pearly white gowns (called tunnure) started the presentation on traditional tapestries and magic carpets that the west would identify from Aladdin.

With religious beauty being a rarity at shows, the striking performance, complete with starkly disparate neon pink lights, was a spectacle.

Even more so because it paved the entry way for street recruited macho models, with heavy tattoos, muscled silhouettes and bad-boy faces.

The streetwear itself was an athletic leisure wardrobe, with hoodies, kaftan style capes, bikers and bombers. These were littered with catchy details that no amount of time would suffice in observing and clicking.

There was Ottoman imagery across hoodies, tapestry style prints on joggers, Dali faces funked up with Mohawks on extra long tees. There were many saffron hued jackets, reminding me of the spice in the Middle Eastern cuisine, with embroideries, patchwork and glimmering studs scattered asymmetrically across the backs and chests of their fit wearers.

A wandering showed many such details, including a James Dean in a Fez, beautiful men in nose piercings, unusually styled drop crotch shorts, velvet embossed jackets and hoodies, leather and jersey knit mashups, and so much more. Truly eye candy and brain sugar all at once!

Thanks to Dazed Digital, The Guide Istanbul and Highsnobiety for visuals.

With an Alice in Wonderland style marriage of the East and the West, the Turkish debut on the iconic Italian soil of Milan was a testament to unity.

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With my eyes still dizzy from the spectacle, this was a collection that was decidedly the highlight of the season.

11 responses to “Vibrant Funk and Ottoman Punk: Les Benjamins in Milan for MFW

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