Asalet is a modern Turkish young woman who expresses herself through a special style of hearing. She likes trying different styles, and wearing things that appeal and make her feel comfortable and herself. Purple has always been a special colour for Asalat and she also likes the combinations that go with it, being the colour of feminism and women.
Is it important for you to wear fashionable clothes or not?
To start with, I should say that I have always had mixed feelings about fashion, mostly because as an industry, it is highly built on women’s appearance and it also enforces a certain and suggested way of dressing and clothing for a particular type of woman (so-called beauty generated in “sexy”, “attractive for men” looking women). Yet in fashion history you see all those feminist women (the first coming to my mind are Coco Chanel, then what suffragettes did with the use of colour in their clothing, and I think of Frida Kahlo with her untrimmed eyebrows and upper lip hair and so on) using their fashion as a counter statement. It was a way of individual expression of feelings, thoughts, mood and as a manifest to refuse that certain type of appearance, beauty and clothing enforced on women’s appearance and clothing. I think in that sense, I like the idea and word of ‘style’ more than ‘fashion’ to be honest because I still cannot detach the word fashion with its sexist connotations. And now we have androjen fashion, ugly fashion, fatfashion, rad designers creating and using their fashion against the patriarchal notions of fashion, to refuse the gender stereotypes in a way.
You are from Turkey but have been living in London for about three years. Do you still continue to follow your Turkish style of wearing or has it changed through the years?
When I think about it, what I wear has changed throughout the years, however I can not put my finger on the reasonk, whether it being my age, my style, or London. It hasn’t dramatically changed I guess, from what I would be wearing in Turkey as well, however I feel more comfortable in London with my appearance. In fact there are times when I almost feel invisible in London, which might be criticised in a deeper sense in terms of urban social life, public spiritness etc but I find it incredibly liberating and freeing. There is a lot of pressure on women especially now on how to dress, behave and be in Turkey. I always felt that there is a constant ‘gaze’ on women, which is a kind of virtual gaze of the patriarchal society demanding “appropriateness” from women at all levels. It is quite good to be visible in public spaces for women and I think for other genders as well, but it is not good to be “watched” or feel being controlled all the time which then feedbacks to you as a self-controlling mechanism to adjust your clothing according to the expectations.
What is special to the Turkish culture in the context of wearing?
Turkey is a big country and different parts have different traditional wear which is very authentic and you only see in local festivals now. I think the climate has the biggest impact on what we wear, and if you ask what is most commonly worn in Turkish culture, I would say it is cotton and that fashion changes with the rest of the world.
Do you think that the way we wear our style is important to our career/success?
I think it depends on what kind of career we’re talking about, in some cases it has a huge importance. My personal view is that it shouldn’t be. I believe that people should be valued according to their skill set, their input to the workforce and to their intellect and ability. But if you ask about workplace wear, I think it is important to some extent, which is probably the main reason of having a dress code.
What is the most extravagant outfit you have worn and when?
I wouldn’t be able to think of any as I always go for the clothes that I feel most comfortable in so even if I had, I wouldn’t call it extravagant as probably it was how I felt comfortable at that time. It is not extravagant if it feels normal and comfortable for you, if that makes any sense. I have tried different styles but not any that were extreme for me. I like subverting cultural norms but again if I felt extreme or extravagant in something, I wouldn’t be able to wear it.
Who is Asalet?
Asalet is a woman of 31 years from Turkey and works as an advice worker. She came to London three years ago to do her PhD in urban studies, after completing a Masters Degree in urban policy planning and working as an urban planner for almost 5 years in Istanbul.