Turkish Delight

A young Turkish designer who made his mark scooping up awards here has opened his own studio to showcase his romantic, elegant clothes, writes Deirdre McQuillan


These ornately lovely clothes are from the hands of Umit Kutluk, a rising star in Irish fashion. The 32-year-old from Istanbul came to Ireland six years ago to study English. He fell in love with Dublin and the Irish countryside and decided to further his interest in fashion by taking a course at the Grafton Academy.

His family background is in textiles and manufacturing, so he had already completed a degree in textile engineering in Istanbul and worked for a time with Turkish fashion designer Hakaan.

Kutluk, who lives in the wilds of Wicklow, has just opened a design studio in the grandeur of two interconnecting Georgian reception rooms at 27 Merrion Square, formerly the headquarters of Mary McAleese.

Their high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling mirrors, richly decorative plasterwork and calm colours provide a handsome setting for the designer’s equally sumptuous clothes as well as being a constant inspiration for his work.

Amateur portraits of Oscar Wilde and Lily Langtry hang over the mantelpieces and the designer recalls that one of his student collections was a tribute to the Irish writer. When viewing the rooms, the picture seemed like a good omen.

The clothes, his fifth collection, are notable for their luxurious fabrics: cashmere, fine wool, silk, lace, feathers and furs from Italy, France, Turkey and Russia.

The evening wear, which is feminine, romantic and pretty spectacular, has elaborate surface detail and appliqué. These are clothes for the red carpet or for grand entrances. Such Ottoman sensibility is also reflected in the daywear.

Coats, which are clean-lined and narrow or more military in style, are embellished with gold sequinned 3D décor that give them an imperial Russian look (very much à la mode at designers such as Ralph Lauren this winter). Kutluk sells them with or without the decor.

The uncomplicated shapes of suits and dresses allow for the very lavish detailing: one hand-made sequinned and beaded corseted dress weighs four kilos; a long black skirt is a riot of iridescent cock feathers; while a cardigan-style black cotton jacket is embellished with more than 2,000 black faceted crystals.

Elsewhere garlands of grey roses on the waist, neckline and arms give extra softness to a long evening gown in gunmetal grey lace.

“Luxury is my passion. I like to think that my clothes are romantic and elegant,” says the designer, whose name means hope and whose quiet modesty belies the many awards he has already gained for his work. He continues to make all his own patterns and samples.

First to stock his early collections was the Design Centre in Powerscourt and best-selling items there continue to be his stylish leather cummerbunds in various colours and sizes that can transform the plainest dress into something special.

Umit Kutluk’s couture and ready-to-wear can be seen by appointment at 27 Merrion Square, Dublin 2 (umitkutluk.ie).

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