Fashion designers Ayşe and Ece Ege of Turkish label Dice Kayek (featured in W*176) have won the V&A's Jameel Prize 3 for their 'Istanbul Contrast' collection, a range that's also celebrated in a new limited-edition book of the same name. Awarded every two years, the Jameel Prize is an international art award aimed at contemporary creatives inspired by Islamic traditions of art, craft and design.
The sisters, based between Paris and Istanbul, are known for their unique ability to weave Istanbul's architectural and artistic heritage into a contemporary fashion context. In this collection they sensitively translate that crossroads into reworked Ottoman robes and crinoline-framed demi-couture minidresses reminiscent of lead domes in the city skyline. 'The aim was to reach a point beyond fashion, driven towards a work of art,' explains Ayşe Ege, 'so at the end, fashion merely became the medium to represent the artistic idea.'
Handing over the £25,000 prize money, Martin Roth, the V&A's director and chair of the panel of judges that also included Thomas Heatherwick, said, 'We were struck by the way that Dice Kayek's work uses Islamic inspiration in a completely secular context, taking it into a new world, that of contemporary fashion.'
Like the collection, the fabric-covered book is an ode to the sisters' transcontinental hometown. 'For us, Istanbul has always been an inspiring paradox, bridging East and West as well as tradition and modernity,' says Ege. The tome pictures Istanbul's architectural feats, Moorish textures and cityscapes opposite the pair's symbiotic fashions.
Having recently celebrated their 21st anniversary, the design duo is currently working on a project for the upcoming Istanbul Design Biennial, which promises to carry on their union of Eastern spirit and Western mindset. 'Twenty years ago, certain clients were reluctant to buy our garments, believing that the label 'Made in Turkey' did not have a good image in the eyes of their customers,' says Ege. 'Today we see that this reaction has changed and the label 'Made in Turkey' has become synonymous with quality and even prestige.'