Sex and the Psyche: Inside Dilara Findikoglu’s A/W20 Show

This season, the sorceress of British design Dilara Findikoglu takes inspiration from the science of psychology – and introduces ‘Dilara couture’

Dilara Findikoglu’s shows aren’t like other London Fashion Week shows. Guests at the Turkish designer’s Autumn/Winter 2020 show on Saturday, hosted at the Gladstone Library at One Whitehall Place, were greeted with what appeared to be the remnants of a great feast: tables strewn with fruit, flickering blood-red candles, and red wine-soaked table linens. As the show itself began, models walked out, moving seductively between tables, posing against the library’s ornate columns and book-lined walls, and meeting the gazes of people sat around those tables – sometimes even stroking their faces.

This element of seduction is something we’ve come to expect from Findikoglu and her dark, often decadent shows; styled by Another Man’s fashion director Ellie Grace Cumming, her collections effuse a sense of sex and glamour in a way that few of her contemporaries do. This season, her signature corsets were paired with garments featuring slashes, slits, cutouts – rendered from sensual silks, velvets and sheer organzas. But despite the usual brand of strong femininity, there was something softer at play here, too – Findikoglu said she was showing her woman’s vulnerable side.

The designer said she had been inspired by her mental health struggles – the ongoing war between the light and dark side of her brain and “the voices in her head” – and those faced by women artists throughout history. She split the show accordingly, into dark and light, naming the looks after different mental states – Self-Destruction, Anxiety, and Insecurity – and paying tribute to figures who have inspired her, such as the French sculptor and “woman genius” Camille Claudel, who was wrongly admitted to a mental asylum for 30 years and whose contribution to art has been overlooked.

There was a strong element of fantasy, too, which came via the introduction of Dilara couture: a richly embellished blood-red dress; a diaphanous black gown; a shimmering silver number adorned with sequins and flowers. It was a vision of utopic glamour in what can often seem a dull, grey world.