On the European shores of the Bosphorus River, the Tophane-i Amire stands as a symbol of the centuries of history that precede and inform modern- day Turkey. The former weapons factory founded by Sultan Mehmed II once again became host to something monumental – a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of leading luxury fashion and lifestyle retailer Beymen.
An exhibition dipped in Ottoman grandeur unfolded within the walls of the historic venue, holding a mirror to 500 years of the country’s luxury and cultural abundance under the theme Golden Opulence. It is more than fitting that a retailer that acted as a bridge between global luxury and Turkish savoir-faire for over half a century has merged the two in an extravagant display of contemporary splendor and multicultural heritage. Elif Çapçi, Beymen Group CEO, says, “Our country is the cradle and home of a magnificent cultural heritage that radiates all the splendor of luxury. Beymen believes it has the duty to preserve that heritage and make it relevant today and tomorrow.”
Curated by journalist and author Laurence Bénaïm, the exhibition invites visitors to explore three distinct sections, each displaying regal creations from over 50 leading purveyors of luxury. For Mineral Roundness, an homage is paid to the history of shapes and forms in Turkey. From the mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent to curved Turkish daggers and the arched profile of sofas, the region has a certain reverence for geometry that oscillates between lines and curves. Here, visitors find wondrous curiosities, such as a black evening dress featuring violin motifs first crafted for the Karl Lagerfeld retrospective, Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2023.
Elsewhere, Precious Dreams was envisioned as an invitation into the Seraglio, where the sultans resided. A palatial vision had been crafted from kaftans with gold embroidery, jackets enhanced with trimmings, and clutches resembling jewel chests. In one display, Alexander McQueen presented an exclusive collection crafted for Beymen, dominated by black and adorned with gold sequins and embroidery. Elsewhere, another black and gold-tone embroidered dress from Dolce & Gabbana drew upon the embroidered tapestries of antiquity. Others included Dior, Christian Louboutin, Ferragamo, and more.
Lastly, there is Bosphorus Gardens, inviting visitors to imagine paradisaical grounds and the natural wonders accompanying them. “For these designs, my team and I have channeled the renowned splendor of the finest Ottoman artisans, with Turkey’s rich heritage reflected in this capsule’s incredible fabrics, beads, jewels, and embroideries – and we’ve used all of that beauty to embellish the precise Parisian tailoring, sharp cuts, and impressive volumes for which Balmain has long been celebrated,” says Olivier Rousteing. The rest of the section featured similar inspirations, from brands such as Valentino to Fornasetti.
“Over the past two years, with the collaboration of over 100 experts, we’ve crafted a multidimensional global trilogy,” clarifies Çapçi, pointing towards the fact that this celebration is not limited to the exhibition alone. Beymen also commissioned two accompanying titles – an Assouline book by Bénaïm and a documentary by award-winning British director Khadifa Wong, commemorating the rich history of luxury in Turkey and Beymen’s position within this lexicon.
Çapçi says, “The Golden Opulence project will add value to the luxury fashion industry both in our country and on a global scale by demonstrating to us how much Turkey, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, continues to be a cradle of contemporary creation.”
Originally published in the December 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia