JEWELS BY CHRISTINE


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THIS MONTH:
PARIS Spring 2004
Today Kutoglu's label is a household name in Austria. Royalty, intellectual elites, celebrities and artists from all over the world clamor to sport his creations, which embody the perfect essence of oriental mystique balanced out by modern elegance. However, Mr. Kutoglu is just getting started and it seems like he will not rest until "Kutoglu" becomes a lifestyle brand with globally scattered flagship stores.

This summer I had the pleasure of having the most delightful chat with Atil Kutoglu in Turkey. Surrounded by the immense beauty of Istanbul, I had the opportunity to listen to Kutoglu talk about fashion, art and his work. Immaculately dressed, irresistibly cute with sun-kissed blond curls and a wicked smile, Kutoglu told me about his childhood. "I studied ballet as a child. My mom was an architect, so drawing was always a part of my life. Moreover, as far back as I can remember I used to observe and comment on the clothes, accessories and hairdos of my mother's friends," he said taking a sip of his cappuccino. Stealing glances at the endless blue of the Bosphorus he continued, "However, having studied in the best German Lyceť in Turkey, I was torn between the desire to study fashion and the aspiration to get a business administration diploma from a renowned university in Europe. I thought to myself: I
eventually want to start my own label, so knowing how to manage finances cannot hurt." Hence Atil registered in the University of Vienna, and it was during his student years that he planted the seeds of a career in fashion that would later catapult him to the front lines of the realm of international moda. "I met the Mayor of Vienna, Dr. Helmut Zilk, on an old Viennese tram one day. It was pure luck. I asked him for a scholarship and ironically it was that scholarship that made my first fashion collection a possibility. The Mayor had a beautiful wife, famous musical star, Dagmar Koller, and she liked my work. She started wearing my creations and that was when I got significant exposure" he reminisced.

Success and prizes followed the debut of Atil Kutoglu, a young yet sophisticated wunderkind. "It was quite a roller coaster ride. Soon I was making acquaintances with princesses, who wanted to wear my pieces," he explained. However, as dizzying as his rise to fashion celebrity status was, Mr. Kutoglu never lost his taste for further triumph. After taking Europe by storm, he set his sights on "Seventh on Sixth" in New York's Bryant Park. I inquired about the reasons behind his decision to show his work in New York instead of Paris, Milan or London. He told me, "I feel that American designers such as Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Michael Koors, Narcisco Rodriguez and Marc Jacobs have really set themselves apart from their counterparts by creating incredibly versatile, chick but most importantly realist creations.
This makes New York more important than ever before. The international press, buyers and celebrities alike are all drawn to these designers' work and hence the Big Apple. Finally the soul of the NY fashion scene is incredibly dynamic. I like that."

Indeed Kutoglu's clothes are universally beautiful, but what makes them unique is the spicy, arabesque-tinted influence of the Orient that saturates them. He is one of the few gifted designers who can transcend the mere ability to construct well tailored garments. He endows the fabric with a spell defined by the mystique of far away places. However this is not to say that Mr. Kutoglu has failed to expand beyond the natural boundaries of his heritage. Western influences are indispensable to the look he likes to achieve. In other words, Atil combines the glamour of the west with the sensuality of the East. The results are fantastic. Atil's Harem knee pants matched with cashmere hooded tops, dresses and kaftans in gold and earth tone colors finished off with skin tight leather pants, slick coats and jackets enriched with sequins and blue embroideries are to die for.

Atil Kutoglu believes that this hybrid he has mastered is a byproduct of being multi-national. "As a result of

having lived in Vienna over the years I am convinced that less is more. Nevertheless I am the child of a rich civilization where crossroads brought incredibly rare elements together to form an amalgamation of beauty. This synthesis is captured in my opus," he says in defense of his work.

The level of refinement that defines Atil's work magnetically draws some of the most beautiful and sophisticated women in the world. Actress Emily Lloyd, Princess von Habsburg, movie star Sonia Kirschberger, Countess Pilar Goess, Nabila Kashogi and Austria's first lady Sonja Klima are among his clients. These exceptional customers aside, in my imagination the Kutoglu woman is a powerful, confident executive, who possesses the ability to morph into an enticingly sexy vixen instantaneously. Interestingly, Kutoglu himself describes his femme fatale as someone 'cosmopolitan, definitely a globe trotter. Possibly an Ottoman Princess married off to the Habsburg dynasty, a rebel princess, a woman who can master her own style without being a slave to clothes, a breathtaking femme, the spawn of East's royal marriage to West." Indeed most of us are not blue bloods, but if you would like to take on a mantel of royal glamour, Kutoglu's creations are exactly what you need. Acquire one of Atil Kutoglu's kilim patterned velvet pencil skirts, red hot sequined pants in lustrous materials or cashmere kaftanesque coats and you too shall catch a glimpse of the sensual lives of Ottoman queens. Trust me slipping in to a Kutoglu creation is as close as it gets to lying upon velvet cushions in the Harem and gazing out onto the bewitching silhouette of Istanbul.

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