Acclaimed Manchester-based Turkish designer Zeynep Kartal once again pays homage to her heritage with her Spring Summer 2019 collection. Inspired by the diamond Chelengk given to British Vice Admiral Horatio by Ottoman Sultan Selim III, the collection also celebrates the designer’s ties with her second home, England.
Equally significant, Queen Elizabeth II permitted Kartal to use her jewellery – a first in fashion history.
The collection debuted with a stunning catwalk at London’s Goldsmith’s Hall during London Fashion Week in September, the influence of the Chelengk seen throughout. The beautiful jewel was encrusted with over 300 diamonds and became synonymous with high fashion in the late 1700s as English high society wore designs inspired by the Sultan’s gift.
A wreath-shaped military decoration of the Ottoman Empire, the Chelengk was awarded for military merit up to the 1820s. A specially-made Chelengk was awarded to Horatio Nelson by Sultan Selim III in honour of the Battle of the Nile in 1798. This was the first time the military award was conferred on a non-Ottoman.
The original Chelengk was stolen in 1951 and lost forever, but Martyn Downer, leading dealer of historic jewels and also the author of Nelson’s Lost Jewel, provided the artwork and Zeynep Kartal redesigned and re-created the Chelengk, which was on display at the show.
Kartal’s collection includes jewel-toned organza, shimmering pink and blue draped silks, and iridescent sheer chiffon pieces. Beautifully embroidered jackets and metallic pieces reflect the flamboyant design of the Chelengk and its 13 rays. Ornate necklines and skirts accentuate the female form with elements of intricate lace and rich satins. All pieces are made using couture techniques with an emphasis on clean cuts and elegant embellishment including piquant embroidery and delicate appliqués.
The Turkish designer’s garments were completed by jewellery, including three pieces from Queen Elizabeth II thanks to a first-ever special permit for a fashion show. Several notable jewellers from Goldsmiths’ Fair also supplied pieces to compliment Zeynap Kartal’s designs: Sarah Straussberg, Barbara Bertagnolli, Joanne Thompson, John Moore and Emmeline Hastings.
In a further tribute to English-Turkish ties and shared history, the show displayed a mosque-shaped clock, which is more than 220 years old. It was designed for Sultan Selim III as a gift from Horatio Nelson but couldn’t be delivered. Pictures of the two and correspondence between them were also featured.