A modern, non-Islamic Turkish woman usually doesn’t go shopping at Tekbir. Tekbir? That is the fashion brand of one of the most famous designers in Turkey, Mustafa Karaduman. He designs clothes for the upcoming devout Islamic middle class of Turkey – for example the wife of president Gül wears Tekbir. It offers modern clothes, stylish, but decent, very decent. For Turks who are not so religious or who fear the power of this increasingly influential religious group in society, Tekbir is one of the symbols of rising Islamism. Now, I am also modern and non-Islamic, but I’m not Turkish, so there is no strict secular load on my shoulders that prevents me from stepping into a Tekbir shop.
I’ve been hesitating for some time though. I pass the Üsküdar branch several times a week, and I’ve been very curious, but that didn’t seem reason enough to go in. The women shopping at Tekbir are conservative, the women working there are too, they cover themselves with the headscarf, so then I’m not barging in there as a foreigner to look around just out of curiosity.
But this week it happened. I saw a dress in the shop window that was just gorgeous. Orange and red, very elegant, with glitter all over. The mannequin wearing it had its head and neck covered with a headscarf of course, but I saw potential and couldn’t resist entering the shop. First good thing I noticed: no music. I love that, people and places that dare to be silent. I asked if the dress in the window was available in other colours too, and I was directed upstairs for the ‘takim elbise’, which means it’s not only a dress, but a set of matching clothes, like a suit for men.
It turned out the dress was a package. Picture this: a down-to-the-feet, rather tight and dark blue satin dress with short sleeves, a short dark blue jacket to cover the shoulders and arms, a long, wide but elegant kaftan (the one that drew my attention in the shop window) made of transparant fabric, in green and blue with a million pieces of glitter and with one button at breast height. And a matching headscarf that was so big you could also cover your neck and décolleté with it.
I only tried the kaftan, in a changing room walled from ground to ceiling, and with a lock on the door. The tight satin dress I didn’t try: I knew it wouldn’t fit, and anyway I wasn’t planning on wearing it. I had my own clothes in mind to combine with this purchase: a tight short black dress with great décolleté, thin panties, black boots with high heels. And then the sparkling green blue kaftan over it. The thought made me so happy that I bought the whole package and left the store with a huge Tekbir bag. I will wear Tekbir clothes, but I sure won’t look conservative and decent!