An Insider’s Guide to Istanbul

This old-new city is on every fashion worlder’s travel agenda. Super shopper Emma Sloley plunges into the magical maze of hidden treasures

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The Grand Bazaar contains 64 streets and more than 3,500 shops (fret not, it's easy to navigate); Photo by Adam McCulloch

The Grand Bazaar contains 64 streets and more than 3,500 shops (fret not, it’s easy to navigate); Photo by Adam McCulloch

Istanbul is exploding with jewel-box boutiques and on-the-verge designers; there’s a glamour and optimism in the balmy air. Here are some starting points from which to get lost in the find.

Nisantasi

Start at Armaggan for seven floors of hand-crafted Ottoman-inspired jewelry, exquisite caftans and other splurge-y Turkish collectibles. Then head to basement boutique Cassette for a riot of colour and texture in the form of hand-crafted shoes—from creepers to colour-blocked brogues. At Yastik, founded by designer Rifat Ozbek, you’ll find gorgeous cushions made from textiles inspired by Ottoman silks, Anatolian floral patterns and ikat. Lastly, get buzzed up to the atelier of Dilek Hanif, Turkey’s answer to Marchesa, where you can swoon over billowy, Greek goddess ball gowns.

Ornate bird-houses at Armaggan; Photo by Adam McCulloch

Ornate bird-houses at Armaggan; Photo by Adam McCulloch

Designer Rifat Ozbek's pillow-laden Yastik; Photo by Adam McCulloch

Designer Rifat Ozbek’s pillow-laden Yastik; Photo by Adam McCulloch

Dilek Hanif's atelier (she's a face of Vogue Turkey editors); Photo by Adam McCulloch

Dilek Hanif’s atelier (she’s a face of Vogue Turkey editors); Photo by Adam McCulloch

Dilek Hanif runway; Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Dilek Hanif runway; Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Grand Bazaar

Enter at any one of its 22 gates and jump into the fray. Head for artisans like Hilat, with museum-worthy gold jewelry, and stylist favourite Cocoon, specializing in Central Asian rugs, textiles, cushions and housewares. Sequestered just outside is the atelier of jewelry designer Sevan Biçakçi. While his pieces—a mosaic and precious stone ring crafted to resemble a Medusa head, say—might be out of budget (his clientele includes Celine Dion), his artistry alone is worthy of a visit.

Çukurcuma

Start at A La Turca, neighbourhood tastemaker Erkal Aksoy’s four-storey home crammed with those long-haired tulu kilims that look so good with modern interiors, plus ornate bird cages and vintage globes. Just over the road is the showroom of Nahide Büyükkaymakçi, a prodigiously talented collector and designer known for exquisite tear-drop chandeliers and leather furnishings. In a similar vein, the showroom of interior designer Ash Günsiray is a decophiles dream: the richness of Turkey, while simplistic and tasteful.

Beyoglu

Pop by the boutique of Paris-trained Bahar Korçan, whose delicate hand-printed prints show up on flowing dresses. Shop for neyzen rake carafes or brooches in the shape of the Sultan’s head at curiosity shop Lunapark Retail & Production Design. Then end your style odyssey at Atelier 55—a light-filled, art-lined space trafficking in punish jewelry by Tom Binns and Vivienne Westwood, and leather bustier dresses from local up-and-comer Ece Salici.

Bright ideas at Atelier 55; Photo by Adam McCulloch

Bright ideas at Atelier 55; Photo by Adam McCulloch

Head to 360 Istanbul for local Rosé and Meze (tapas-style small plates); Photo Courtesy of 360 Istanbul Restaurant

Head to 360 Istanbul for local Rosé and Meze (tapas-style small plates); Photo Courtesy of 360 Istanbul Restaurant

Take a break: a cappuccino from 49 Cucurma; Photo by Adam McCulloch

Take a break: a cappuccino from 49 Cucurma; Photo by Adam McCulloch

Shop, then drop: the understated House Hotel in Nisantasi boasts one of the world's largest hotel libraries; Photo Courtesy of House Hotel Nisantasi

Shop, then drop: the understated House Hotel in Nisantasi boasts one of the world’s largest hotel libraries; Photo Courtesy of House Hotel Nisantasi

A street-side cafe in Beyoglu; Photo by Adam McCulloch

A street-side cafe in Beyoglu; Photo by Adam McCulloch

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