Kaprol breezed in moments later, all smiles, looking every part the New York fashionista in all black with a snakeskin bolero with metal detailing down the back that looked like a spine— all of her own design, of course. And while it’s true that Kaprol, 42, is cool, fashionable and chic, she’s so much more than just a fashion girl— she has 25 years in the industry under her self-designed belt, after all. And I was thrilled to get to know the woman behind the designs I’ve loved for so long.
We began our conversation where Kaprol began her education: in Turkey, voicing her 9-year-old opinion during her grandmother’s - a tailor - client’s fittings. She’d spend hours sketching in the back of her grandmother’s shop, learning about design, construction and tailoring from both her grandmother and her mother. It’s clear from the way she speaks about both women that they’ve had a profound and lasting impact on Kaprol and how she lives her life. Still today she says with a laugh “sketching is my life!” It’s also her mother and grandmother who Kaprol designs for, keeping their approval in the back of her mind as she comes up with each new collection.
Fashion design is just in her DNA. She says “I never thought of doing anything different,” and went straight into Fashion Design at Mimar Sinan University. After graduating in 1992, she moved to Paris to continue her couture education at the Paris American Academy, where she completed the Perfectionnement program.
In 1995, she received prestigious “Avant-Garde Designer” award from Beymen Academia and like that, at just 21 years old, became a household name in Turkey. But of course, she was just getting started. She founded her eponymous brand in 1998, with as she says, “nothing to lose”. There’s a freedom in finding your life’s passion so early in life; you’re still optimistic, blissfully unaware of all the ways the world could tell you no.
Kaprol continued to design collections season after season and in 2007, opened her first of nine brick-and-mortar stores in Turkey. Additionally, her collections are sold in 13 countries, including at Harrods in London, Montaigne Market in Paris, Bergdorf Goodman here in New York. It’s a globally recognized brand, and one she’s worked hard to build with years of patience and determination.
She now has a studio in Paris, on the 3rd floor of the Goyard building, where she hosts presentations and works on new collections. The brand even participated in Paris Fashion Week, “situated between Vuitton and Miu Miu,” for a few years starting in 2011.
“It made me change my entire path…it was a big turning point for me,” Kaprol says. It was the basis of her Army of Love collection, where she had fun mixing materials and textures— though heavy on the leather, “always leather!”. Kaprol approaches design as “fashion architecture” which is evident in her style. It’s structured, solid, minimalist, all clean lines and controlled color palettes mixed with futuristic laser cutting and screen printing. It’s modern and timeless all at once. She says “fashion can be an art object” and I couldn’t agree more, especially since I’ve had one of her dresses hanging in my living room for two weeks,
studying it every day the way I’d study a new painting.
To really understand Kaprol’s fascination with merging the future with fashion, you only need to watch her Winter 2016 show, Fountain of Life. She collaborated with musician and visual artist Mercan Dede for the project and the result is ethereal, haunting, beautiful— not to mention the first ever digital fashion show in Turkey. The pair used holograms and videomapping to present Kaprol’s collection.
When I asked her to elaborate on her reason for designing the way that she does, she said, “I always have to create something new, have to say something new.” She says that her purpose as a designer is to “make the body feel better, comfortable— our body is the home to our soul, and I wish to honor it with my designs”. She sees her customer as a woman “who knows who she is and is okay with it; a woman who is happy and content.” As someone who has worn Kaprol’s designs before, I can confidently say that her pieces inspire both happiness and contentment.
While this passion and spirituality are at the heart of her designs, there’s a business aspect to it as well. She says she’s continually pushing herself to make “lasting impressions in a saturated market,” a thoughtful and shrewd observation that no doubt continually drives her success.
Because we are forever dedicated to discovering and celebrating new designers at Precious 7, I had to end our conversation by getting her fashion veteran’s advice for those coming up through the ranks. She responded with one simple question: “You just have to ask yourself, ‘why does the world need my designs?’. If you can answer that question, go for it. If you can’t, maybe you should rethink your path.” It’s obvious in her continual evolution and striving to be better that Kaprol is constantly asking herself this same question and luckily enough for us, continues to find her answers.
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