AW21 sees Bora Aksu transport us to Revolutionary France amid the tumultuous landscape of upheaval, war and isolation presenting a collection inspired by peerless life and achievements of mathematician and physicist Sophie Germain. The same world that inspired the cries of “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité ou la Mort” also allowed the blossoming of one of the modern era’s most sublime and often overlooked
In turn this has drawn Bora Aksu to reflect on the effect that isolation can have on the mind, simultaneously eroding and inspiring the greatest feats of passion and creativity. In this collection Bora Aksu draws on the power of isolation and its ability to push people to their limits.
Using silhouettes and styles inspired by late 18th and early 19th century dress, Bora Aksu combines the masculine and feminine that defined the early-modern era in a play on Germain’s own attempts to defy the masculine norms of her time.
A woman who grew up in virtual isolation as the world seemingly burned around her, Germain defied expectations and the status quo, discovering passion and genius that would endure to this day. Germain quickly discovered that her passion lay in the world of applied Mathematics and Physics and that this world was one in which she, as a woman, was neither welcome nor tolerated. Unable to enter formal
education as a young girl, Germain instead took the initiative to pose as a man, corresponding regularly with some of the world’s foremost thinkers, including Legendre and Gauss, in order to further her own knowledge.
From tailored velvets suits and French caps to boxed cashmere coats, the use of masculinity to enhance the feminine and vice versa plays a key role in this collection. Sharp tailoring is paired with soft detailing, tulle and taffeta aprons enhance the structure while adding an ethereal, almost childlike playfulness. While the multi-coloured laces in navy, teal, buttercream and corn yellows are juxtaposed to create both soft and structured shapes and add a sense of vibrance and romance to the collection.
Bora Aksu, Creative Director:
‘Despite the 200 years between us, I felt an immediate kinship with Sophie. The isolation and uncertainty of the last year has caused me to search for new sources of hope and creativity. Sophie’s own isolation allowed her to find the ideas that would drive her for the rest of her life. In that way she has shown me that even in the bleakest of times, there is always hope, if one choose to seek it’
A sophisticated femininity is evident in both the embroidery and printed dresses, pairing the ideals of conservative femininity with the joy and freedom of vibrant and otherworldly fabrics. The collection is voluminous and rich; long tailored coats, cropped jackets, capes, shirts and skirts all function as separates yet combine to offer a glimpse into a world that reflects the passion and drive of women like Sophie Germain, who from the moment of their birth stand against the forces that seek to keep them in the background.
Germain’s achievements went unrecognised in her time, yet it was only shortly after her death that the community to which she had contributed so much finally realised the genius that they had lost. After her death in 1831 Gauss himself lamented „she proved to the world that even a woman can accomplish something worthwhile in the most rigorous and abstract of the sciences and for that reason would well have deserved an honorary degree”1
Bora Aksu presented his AW21 collection amid lockdown within Tate Britain.
About Bora Aksu
Bora Aksu founded his label in 2002, after graduating from the MA in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins. Following early critical acclaim from the fashion press for his singular approach to occasion wear, Aksu was awarded NEWGEN funding for eight consecutive seasons, and has shown on-schedule at London Fashion Week for the past 17 years.
Bora Aksu’s deftness of touch and investment in craftsmanship also draws on his Turkish roots, giving his collections a unique demi-couture quality; an element that has distinguished the designer’s position in the fashion industry over the years. The designer has dressed a multitude of film stars including Marion Cotillard, Sienna Miller and Kiera Knightly and designed costumes for musicians that include Rita Ora, Tori Amos and Ellie Goulding.
Over 17 years the Bora Aksu brand has developed a global presence with a growing number of stockist throughout Europe and the Middle East. Most recently the brand experienced significant expansion in Asia with now 62 stand-alone stores operating across the Asia Pacific region.