Istanbul Vintage

Selale Gultekin owns a Pied de poule ( vintage shop )in Istanbul .

Her beautiful turkish name means waterfall .

Appropriate , as she is quite literally surrounded under a waterfall of clothes.

Meandering around the cobbled lanes of inner city istanbul we chanced on her cache of nostalgia .image

The tell tale sign was a 50 ,s lace wedding dress stuck to the door , nestled beside it a pleated chiffon party dress in neon lemon shade .

Two stone steps led to narrow glass doors , and a sign imperiously instructing the bell to be rung to gain entry.

I pressed a clammy finger to it as instructed .
The doors were flung wide , the heady smell of plastic and mothballs escaped , as did two startled blonde , 20 plus Nordic types , looking like startled deer.

A dimunitive , brown skinned lady with wild , frizzy , dyed red hair , and heavily kohled eyes , greeted us .
She was dressed in top to toe modern clothing from her american apparel cotton chinos , double layer topshop singlets , leather esprit loafers , and Blue leopard print gstring clearly visible , above her rounded brown hips .
I am Selale she announced and had clearly scented fresh prey as she beckoned us in gleefully to her cornucopia of earthly delights .
What enfolded was a display by a woman in love with her esoteric collection of finery .
It was also a history lesson of her life , as she recounted events by what each piece was worn to and by whom .

Selale,s shop
Selale,s shop

” Oh this is the dress I wore to the ballet ” , holding aloft a magnificent , hand tailored evening gown , with a brown silk top , and green cotton hand worked , lace skirt .
This was my grandmothers, Selale shrieked , as a plastic cover was wrenched asunder to reveal a 30’s flapper dress , the top velvet encrusted eau de nil flowers on sheer bodice , the full skirt a symphony of swirling sheer green silk .
The sweet carnaby st swinging 60’s short green cotton jacket , embellished with large round hot pink buttons , and sweet Peter Pan collar revived fond memories.
Copies of the 50″s two piece suits of fitted jacket & skirts , were used in mad men.

Each garment was lovingly produced and its story told .
This was my mothers , as she proffered a demure , white and brown polka dotted voile , full skirted , sun frock.
She proudly and haltingly shared her history with us in broken English .
My grandmother was the first teacher in Turkey.
My mother was the first nurse in Turkey.
Clearly a milestone in male dominated Muslim turkey ‘s society.
Black and white photos of two impossibly beautiful sultry dark haired beauties were proudly proferred.

Her treasure trove consisted off a tiny room , hall and entry all stuffed with clothing , most encased in plastic & suspended from ceiling hooks . The full length viewing mirror , was through a truculent door , concealed in a dusty lane way.

Every surface was covered in hats , bags , shoes , gloves & jewellery dating from the 30″s to the 70’S .

Selale lovingly chronicled each garment whilst imploring us to try each .
Alas many were too tiny , not belonging to the classical tiny fifty,s era body shape. Unfortunately, our large head and feet , denied us the many dainty offerings on offer.
Eventually a 50’s sculpted jacket , and marching silk shirt plus a sheer nylon 60’s blouse were entrusted into our care . A fair price was reached without much haggling . Selale was happy to release them to a good home .
Sadly she turned her tragic dark eyes skyward and said so many pieces , already I am 60 and still taking more .
Doubtless her only child , a son , shares no interest in her collection and she can only fervently hope for a daughter in law , or granddaughter to take up the reins .
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A photo taken , us both emitting the catch cry of 50 plus women everywhere ” let us take our glasses off first ” and we were emitted out into the street , our finery incongruously packed into a cardboard Tommy Hilfiger carry bag .
We had chanced on something special in a back street of Istanbul .
Thank you Selale , we,ll be back for that special occasion dress .

Published by

Denise Honan

Re Training Visual Artist. Completed Diploma of Visual Art at Victoria University in 2015. Currently studying Bachelor of Fine Art at Monash University, Caulfield.

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