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  • Writer's pictureHakan Öztunalı

Ethereal Awakening /w Elanur Erdogan

Elanur Erdogan, fashion and costume designer, the wanderer of outer realms. Ela is one of the most genuine fashion designer I’ve ever been encountered. The way she blends fabrics and scraps looks utterly unusual and impeccable.

I don’t have any clue where she wanders. When she returns from a journey, she carries contemporary stories and ideas from ethereal lands for the inevitable awakening. The regarding ethereal awakening is the manifest of sharing feelings, confronting with thyself upright. It’s the depiction of obscurity. Do you have a reasonable valor to identify the TRUE thyself? Will you be awake or eternal slumber?

Elanur Erdogan
(Courtesy of Elanur Erdogan, Editorial Shoot)

Could you introduce yourself please?

Elanur Erdogan: My name is Elanur Erdogan; I am an artist based in New York city. I graduated from Parsons with a degree in fashion design. After I completed school I spent some time at an atelier based in Amsterdam and later went on to work in Paris and London where I became inspired to begin my own brand.

Once I returned to New York, I independently fabricated DOBS. DOBS originally existed as an artisanal clothing brand which was sold in ABC Carpet & Home in New York city. While creating my brand, I simultaneously began working as a wardrobe stylist and since I have continued to expand and evolve working with others in various forms of artistry- music, film, movement. As I evolved the term DOBS transformed into a sort of verbage for some to use to describe my work, my aesthetic, sometimes me.

As an artist I construct literal methods to interpret seemingly abstract ideas. Fashion is merely a medium I employ as a matter of physically communicating concepts. My passion lies in the building of a story.

Storytelling is one of the crucial element of fashion, how do you storify your collections and projects?

Elanur Erdogan: In my mind the clothes are always created to serve the story. Every element is specifically chosen to represent an aspect of the narrative from the quality of the textile, to color, to drape, to the thread I use to connect the pieces of fabric together and how I connect them together- if it even is with thread.

If an element is not connected back to the story in some way I do not use it. My process of creating comes from a place of intention. I deeply value intention and sentiment and I treat my creations with those values.

About Irreversible Intricacy, how did you compile the fabrics to form that physical integrity?

Elanur Erdogan: Irreversible Intricacy is essentially the sequel to 217. I will provide a bit of background on how the series originated. In 2016, I created 217. I set out to create something to alter the perception of “garbage.”

The collection I titled “217” was made in retaliation to someone calling my own work “garbage” so I very much rejected the idea of “being garbage.” I challenged it – so I had to transform it into art.

In doing so, I collected fabric from textile mill trash and dyed the garments by burying them in compost bins filled with produce that was thrown away in New York city streets for specific periods of time. These are the garments you see in that collection. In 2018, I revisited this concept from a new place. In Irreversible Intricacy I accepted “being garbage,” I embraced the idea of the garbage and I wanted to refine the original idea.

I also wanted the collection to be more directly connected to me in a sense because the collection was to reflect my own perspective changing.

The fabrics from that collection were my own fabric scraps from 2016/2017: fabrics from my studio, fabrics I used with my family in Türkiye. In a similar vein the food waste I used to dye the collection was my own food waste (pits, peels etc) that I collected over that same 2 year period.

The fabric was manipulated to parallel leather pieces I purchased from artist Mandy Den Elzen when I lived in the Netherlands. Mandy tans leather from the parts of animals deemed inedible/useless by slaughterhouses Naturally this concept spoke to me and when I shared with her my intentions with her art she granted me the permission to use them in this way. For that I am very grateful.

If you think of 217 as the wound then Irreversible Intricacy would be a sort of second skin, the scar.

elanur erdogan
(Courtesy of Elanur Erdogan, Irreversible Intricacy Collection)

Do you have plans to work for a highly regarded fashion house as a creative fashion designer some day?

Elanur Erdogan: There was a point in my life where I viewed myself as a planner, however, my perspective has now changed. As opposed to making plans I choose to manifest opportunities. If the opportunity presented itself I would be open to it if I firmly believed in the ethos of the fashion house.

I have been very fortunate to create under my own name, from my own voice. Although I may not be a “highly regarded design house” I have the ability to work freely and I deeply value my creative freedom. Although my background is in fashion design I view myself as an artist first. Clothing is merely my medium of choice to create physical narratives. I do not believe in limiting my scope to only exist in the fashion world- I exist to expand.

What I enjoy moreso than creating the clothes is building the narrative. I have practiced that concept with my own line DOBS- I built my world in this reality and the clothes were the invitations for the public to join.

Throughout my career I have crossed into various forms of media – music, film, fine art, dance and expanded my vision on “how can I build the narrative.” I will continue to expand, to lead into a future where I have the opportunity to creative direct.

I am truly inspired by building the world and creating an experience and would love to apply that to the projects that I am passionate about.

What are your thoughts about the overall status of fashion in Türkiye?

Elanur Erdogan: I see Türkiye as a great source of creation, craftsmanship, and artistry. In my opinion it has the resources to be a fashion hotspot. The country itself possesses a rich complicated history. There’s a great deal of energy there as well as an abundance of talent that emerges from that land. I have met and worked with many talented artists from Türkiye and I have only respect for them.

As a Turkish-American, I can only truly speak from my experience growing up in the states but I have often felt a country’s history is often reflected in the people. When there is conflict we feel that especially as artists. When there is environmental limitation it can be reflected in our work.

At this time I have no present plans for Türkiye but I invite the opportunity to create with more artists from Türkiye and inspire new manners of communication.

How Elanur Erdogan summons her euphoria with the motivation of creating stuff?

Elanur Erdogan: It’s ironic to me you use the word “euphoria” to inspire my motivation because typically my work does not come from a place of “euphoria.”

The motivation to create is summoned from an energy in me. I can’t say if it’s positive or negative but it’s usually strong when presenting itself. When I began creating collections I branded them with the name DOBS. DOBS is an acronym for Dates of Birth in Sequence. For me, each of these collections represent a physical timeline of my own existence.

Each garment is representative of a point in time that I was not able to communicate, so I built it in efforts to share my experience and establish understanding. When I create for others I feel their energy and based upon that and the project at hand we build together. I am filled with gratitude for the opportunities I have received to create for others – whether it is to speak their truth, to help communicate a story, to help them embody the person they aspire to be, to reveal a different aspect of themselves to their audience etc- I see myself as that vehicle.

At that point I am ignited with I guess you can say a euphoria but it is a mission for me. How can I use clothing to help the audience understand the story? How can I create clothing to radiate that feeling?

It’s very ingrained in me. I speak through creating.

demeter collection
elanur erdogan
elanur erdogan
(Courtesy of Elanur Erdogan, RTW Demeter Collection)

Why did you pick fashion as a context to express yourself?

Elanur Erdogan: In my adolescence I fell in love with the metaphor of clothing.

It was magical to me how a person could be completely transformed by just changing what they wore. I was equally amazed by how clothing could be transformed on a body and how one piece of clothing could mean one thing to someone but have a completely different sentimental value to someone else.

The story- it comes alive on a body. But each body has something different they want to say. Once I discovered this I was obsessively researching. I read all the books, magazines,, Behind the Velvet Rope -you name it. I fixed my grandmother’s sewing machine & I taught myself to sew.

The more I learned, the more I saw the more I loved it. This world became my safe place. I don’t know if it’s necessarily fashion but I am forever building a story.


elanur erdogan
(The Beautiful Lady, Elanur Erdogan herself)

Elanur Erdogan’s Official Website Page: elanurerdogan

Elanur Erdogan’s Instagram Page: @dobs_ny


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