In the 1980s and 1990s, Turkish-born Rifat Ozbek was one of London’s most feted fashion talents. He inhabited the avant-garde nightclub world of Taboo and Kinky Gerlinky, but designed for high society, the red carpet and the establishment. His womenswear – modelled by Naomi Campbell and Helena Christensen – was a global phenomenon, with a fragrance line and industry awards to match.
Now, Ozbek dresses exclusive Mayfair enclaves. The models are different but the style is the same. Loulou’s at 5 Hertford Street, the fashionable witching hour playground opened by Robin Birley, son of nightclub magnate Mark Birley, is bedecked in bespoke Ozbek splendour: bright, concertedly clashing prints that reference the heady colours of Ozbek’s Turkish homeland. Birley invited Ozbek to decorate his nightclub after being very taken with what he’d done with his London home: Birley’s wife Lucy – formerly Lucy Ferry – is a long standing friend of Ozbek.
The Yastik line of cushions is the apex of Ozbek style: lush, wildly coloured and exotic, using traditional Turkish ikat dye techniques. The cotton and silk mix cushions are eclectic and absolutely luxurious. He created his first Yastik pieces several years ago, when furnishing his holiday home in Bodrum. They became – almost accidentally – a phenomenon, and now there are Yastik boutiques in Istanbul and London.
A new 50-piece range of Yastik cushions – ‘Jazzy Ikats’ – feature a starker and cleaner look than before – less painterly, more architectural. Each incorporates an existing ikat pattern that has been cut up and rotated. The new Yastik collection is well suited to spare, industrial settings, yet still retains a touch of Turkish exoticism – think Bridget Riley and Joseph Dirand in the Grand Bazaar. You don’t have to live in a kaleidoscope for these pieces to work in your home.
It’s an intuitive move that panders to those for whom his Turkish artisanal works are just a little too folk. This is Ozbek all over: a chameleon who reframes and reorganises the textile landscape, and makes something fresh and contemporary from something romantic and traditional.