Eda Yorulmazoglu Designs Wearable Art, and it’s Not What You’d Expect
Derek Ezra Brown,
Eda Yorulmazoglu creates wearable creatures with their own narrative, designed to playfully bring audiences into her own world. A world where joyful, innocent, and morbid families of creatures live alongside us. Eda’s work, inspirations, and methods of showcasing them come from a place of purity and independence that make her the rare example of a fine artist who creates garments uninspired by fashion.
A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 1th issue of ODDA Magazine.
It is an undying debate whether fashion is an art. Your work opens up that discussion. Do you consider yourself an artist or a fashion designer?
I feel like I am both, I don’t really like to choose one. On one hand, I want to be considered an artist so I can do all mediums without committing to the body and stray away from something desirable to wear. On the other, I do want to be called a fashion designer because I want to show that fashion can be a jacket with 30 arms and a limp body trailing behind you as your train. So many times I’ve been told what I make is a costume, and then people stop and correct themselves because they think I am offended that they called my work costumes. I feel like costumes can still be considered fashion. When you are wearing a hoop skirt and a wig, people even call that a costume, but it was something that everyone wore once. It’s all opinion. People are afraid of clothes when it’s not ‘practical’ and when it’s not sold at stores. When it’s not fast fashion. Sometimes, I walk with my giant backpack that is the size of me with dangling foliage and limbs and people stare. And I like it. Because I am trying to show them what fashion can be. Fashion is art, and art is fashion.
Your creatures are handmade in a variety of different mediums, and you have used ceramic pottery as a jumping off point, in addition to illustrations. May you explain your creative process and the different mediums you work with?
The creative process for each project can differ. It depends on what I am feeling, and how those feelings need to be let out. When I started from ceramics for designing, that is when I need to use my whole body. I need to let my energy and emotions out by moving and it is the most meditative process out of anything. It helps me to block out everything in the world and just let my hands build. Sometimes, I start from drawing, that is when I have more of an idea of what I want, or when I want to draw scenes. This takes more effort and a little less meditative, but more relaxing because I can be still. With either medium, I build or draw until I can laugh at what I created and that is when I know it is right because I feel true happiness. Happiness is what I want to give to my audience, and I want people to be distracted from the cruel world.
Your work has been presented at MCA Chicago and other art events, had its runway debut at Berlin Alternative Fashion Week, and had its narratives translated beautifully to film and photography. As someone who separates them self from the fashion system, would you say you are creating your own system to showcase and sell your designs? What is your preferred method of expressing your concepts?
I don’t want to fully separate myself from the fashion system, but I do want to do it my own way. I want my runways to be more than showing beautiful clothes shown on beautiful models. I want it to create an experience for the audience to take them out of our world and forget everything. I want them to forget they’re watching a fashion show, because many times when you are watching a fashion show, it feels like you’re watching a show of clothes that you can never afford. I don’t want anyone to stress or worry when watching my shows. I want people to laugh, be confused, and maybe even be a little scared, but never feel like belittled by what is being presented. at is also why I like showing clothing on creatures because people won’t compare themselves then, and instead will focus on the overall garment. I think my favorite way to showcase my work is performing/runway because, in the end, seeing people’s reactions is one of the aspects of creating I love.
My personal favorite showcase of your work was the film you did with Drew Hanks for A Perfect Nuclear Family. How did that collaboration come about, and will you continue to use film to express your narratives?
For my junior collection, we were given the task to create three looks for our fashion show. That is when I created the family. I created their story, their characteristics, and gave them life. Film was something I never did though and I did not know how to put my thoughts into a full script, but I wanted to show the world how this family functioned everyday. Drew and I went to school together, and we decided to work together on this film. He put together a script and a team, I found the set and the models, and we made it happen.
I will definitely continue to use film to express narratives. It the way I always envisioned my work to be showcased as well as live acting. There is something special about having a video of your work that you can access that world at any time you wish. I know one day I want to create a full set to show where these creatures live.
Would you consider loaning your pieces to stylists and photographers to showcase your designs in publications alongside fashion?
I definitely would, and already do! I’ve loaned my garments to fashion photographers that don’t live in the world that the creatures do. It’s nice to see how my creations can live in a place beyond their own. I want people to see it as fashion, because I feel like sometimes the fashion world is stuck in a little bubble that creates a lot of boundaries. Fashion can be anything! I want to push those boundaries and give people an opportunity to dress in a way they might not have before because they didn’t have a chance. I currently rent out to a lot of drag queens, and it’s amazing to work with them because they fully accept my work the way it is, and I feel like drag is a very important fashion community that a lot of times the industry or society might ignore as a serious fashion group.
Besides your film with Drew Hanks, what are other ways you have collaborated with artists for projects? Would you be open to creating costumes for other peoples’ films etc. whose aesthetic might not match your own?
In the past, I’ve worked with a couple talented artists for short films and music videos. I have either styled actors with my costumes, made props, and even made custom full looks. I worked in projects like Make Out Party created by Emily Esperanza, Open Up created by Daniella Deluna and History of Drag by Dorian Electra and Imp Queen.
It was fun working with these creatives because, though we were all different kinds of artists, we found things we could connect on and it was fun to see where my work could go with someone else’s mind to help influence the work.
Do you feel it is important to showcase your garments like fine art, exhibiting at museums and only available for commission, or for marketing reasons might you feel pressured to show during Fashion Week and produce samples for retailers to acquire?
I think it’s important for me to do both by showing my creations in museums, doing commissions and showcasing them at Fashion Week although I am not thinking of getting into producing samples for mass production. I really like the idea of keeping the pieces one of a kind and only making a couple at most if I were selling them.
I think it keeps them feeling special. I don’t feel pressured at all to fit the norm of fashion. I want to keep creating original work and a lot of times, when people ask me to reproduce a piece, I get bored making it because there is nothing to figure out. One of the most enjoyable aspects of making is figuring out the engineering of the garment. If I reproduce, I always try to change something about it so it is till unique.
You stayed in Chicago and attended SAIC so that you could be close to your family, and your collections since have been families of creatures inspired by your own. Why is your family such a strong influence on your work? Will this always be the case? Will you ever leave Chicago?
I grew up surrounded by a lot of nasty people. People that wanted to take advantage and hurt me. I realized my family are my true soulmates. We may not always agree 100% on everything, it’s not always perfect, but they love me unconditionally and I love them.
I grew up with my parents, two brothers, and my grandpa. After we lost our grandpa two years ago, we went through really rough hardships, but it also made us stronger. I realized out of anyone in the world, they will always be there for me. My brother is even getting into costume making and we are planning to work together as partners in the future. I couldn’t think of a better person to work with, I trust him with everything. I think they will always influence my work, in the way that as the creator I want to show my creatures love the same way my family does.
I will leave Chicago at some point, but I am in no rush right now. Chicago is a really great place to start your art form I have learned. It’s small, but easier to get to know everyone in the community. It feels more intimate. ALSO CHEAPER! I had more time to work on my practice because I’m not as worried on rent as I would have been if lived in New York or LA.
Although the families you create are wonderfully humorous and seemingly innocent, their narratives are tied with a great sense of morbidity, such as constantly popping out human babies and eating them. Where does the morbidity behind these fantasies stem from?
Realizing the morbidity is real life situations is important to me and is a way for me to get through things. In my first family collection, My Perfect Nuclear Family, it was a depiction of the stereotypical characteristics of the perfect American Dream Family. A fertile mom that cooks, a dad that provides, and a loving, happy child.
Although they had some darker qualities to them like their appearances, the mom birthing babies constantly wherever she went, the dad who carries a baby on a stick and is tired all the time, and the child who kills its pets for dress up. If they’re so messed up and seem like outsiders, then how are they perfect? The perfection doesn’t come from how people perceive you, if you fit into the world, or have the stereotypical perfect look. This family is perfect because they love each other unconditionally and accept themselves for who they are.
I also created a story about a character named Marty that wore my Hug Coat piece. The story described Marty as a lonely creature who walked around the city to collect people’s arms. In doing so, Marty wraps the arms around themselves to give a hug feeling. Marty collected so many arms that in finally created a pile of arms that is the Hug Coat.
This idea came from when I was alone all summer with my ill grandfather and very stressed out. I kept thinking of how one would feel less lonely if they don’t have another person to comfort them. Creating my creatures helps me feel better, and the morbidity in them pushes me to acknowledge the bad events happening but gives me an outlet to make fun of them.
What are some goals you would like to accomplish, or what is your end goal as a professional artist?
During SAIC, my only thought was to get into film with my creations, because I didn’t know where else I would belong. If I hereto create and make fashion, I didn’t know who my client who be. Although, after I graduated, I gained so many opportunities that I never knew I could have, like dressing drag. I think my end-goal is still film, because I want to create a world for my creatures for people to experience. However, now I know there are more possibilities on where I can go with my practice, and I don’t know exactly where I will end up, but I’m just going with the flow and loving every second of it!
Derek Ezra Brown
Derek Ezra Brown is a young journalist and fashion stylist who travels the world in pursuit of creating thought provoking fashion shoots and designer interviews.
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