Umit Kutluk has memories as a child of playing on a simple embroidery machine at home in Istanbul and making all sorts of shapes with it. Now an established fashion designer, he has just purchased a sophisticated state-of-the-art version that allows him to make elaborate and richly decorated floral dresses in his latest autumn winter collection.
Each flower and leaf takes 40 minutes to make on the machine; it is then hand-stitched on black French lace and underpinned with chiffon lining, a time-consuming process. “All you have to do is sketch a design and then transfer it on to a special programme on the computer, which allows you to do the embroidery,” he explains.
Last year he experimented with digital printing, but now he plans to do more embroidery that reflects his Ottoman heritage in a country where needlework has traditionally occupied an important place in Turkish life. Embroidery happens also to be a big trend this season.
His latest collection reworks some of his familiar, graceful, grown-up tailoring – feather-light waterfall hems, draped or fluted sleeves and shapely cuts. One dress became an instant bestseller for the mother of the bride with even the samples selling out. This was because of its flattering shoulder shape with soft attachments in the same fabric that could double up as a wrap or be tied loosely at the back.
Colour is strong this season “because I learn from Irish women that colour is very important and I wanted to focus on that”, he says.
The shades include cream rather than winter white, burgundy, cherry, blue and mustard, the latter good for red heads, he argues. There is a lot of wool crepe that is comfortable to wear and doesn’t crease, cashmere for coats, and French chiffon and lace. Pleating is used for palazzo pants and in dresses and tunics; top-stitched where it counts. Elsewhere, slimline black dresses and longer skirts in leather have a sophisticated look and some coats are trimmed with fur.
In October he will take part in Istanbul Fashion Week, having already attracted the attention of a leading boutique in one of the Turkish capital's most fashionable streets. In the meantime, his collection, all handmade in his Merrion Square showroom, is on sale there and in La Creme Boutique in Gorey, Co Wexford, which specialises in fashion for the mother of the bride.
His spring/summer collection, at reduced prices, can be found in the So Collective in Kildare Village.
Umit Kutluk, showroom and atelier, 27 Merrion Square, Dublin 2; umitkutluk.ie