Bella Hadid has been photographed over the past few months paying homage to a season one Carrie Bradshaw by wearing a thoroughly ‘90s bag style. Stepping out for The Variety’s Women of Power event in New York this month, Hadid looked every inch a ‘90s Julia Roberts in a skin-tight chocolate leather three-piece, tinted micro shades and a shoulder-strapped, rectangular-shaped, leopard-print bag.
Last September at a Paris Fashion Week dinner, the model was seen carrying the same bag – this time in sunset orange croc – in one hand, a glass of wine in the other. No, this is no vintage plus one: this beauty comes from Dorateymur, the accessories brand that has quietly but confidently grown a cult following, and won the heart of style stalwarts such as Hadid’s stylist Mimi Cuttrell, Rihanna and Adwoa Aboah.
Whether it’s his Groupie Ankle Strap heel – think a BDSM take on the classic Mary Jane, all extreme points and spiked heel – seen on the likes of Chloe Moretz, Edie Campbell and Kate Bosworth; or his Nizip 60 boots – complete with silver piercing and angular heels – spotted on Instagram’s coolest, it’s fair to say that Dora Teymur’s eponymous label has become the cool kids’ accessories choice.
So, what sets the Turkish-born Dora apart from his contemporaries at a time when statement-making shoes and bags are ruling the fashion landscape? First off, he started young: in 2013, at just 22, he launched his namesake brand, while still studying Accessory and Footwear design at Cordwainers School at the London College of Fashion. Secondly, in a world of hyper-feminine aesthetics, his pieces have a witty and subversive irreverence to them, whether it’s a kinky patent boot or a Louis XVI-style French heel.
Not content with simply crafting subversive shoes for women, Dora launched handbags in 2018 and a ready-to-wear capsule for his own catwalk show. Ahead of the brand’s SS19 drop, we caught up with the whip-smart designer over a Turkish coffee in his London studio.
Tell me about growing up in Turkey before you moved to London and all of this began...
My father is from the southeast and my mother is from Istanbul. I grew up very close to the border with Turkey and Syria. It was a bit reserved there because people mainly spend their time inside, in people's houses, in clubs. It was a quiet childhood. I had a lot of time to dream and think about what I wanted to do.
How early on did you know that accessories were your calling?
I didn’t – fashion was my thing, I wanted to do the full look. I wanted to talk about the lifestyle of the character, the psychology, what music she listened to, what sort of environment she lives in, when she would get divorced...
So how did that turn into a focus on footwear initially?
Because I have a very business-minded father and he thought starting with footwear was sensible, because he saw that it was my strong hand. It made sense to start from one specific area so I could learn through my brand, because otherwise you have to work for a brand in order to have that business... my VISA was not allowing that.
Because non-EU students often need sponsorship in order to stay in the UK, right?
Yeah, and I was not an easy going child... When I look at my 20-year-old-self, I wouldn't deal with that guy. I've learned through my brand – of course it cost me time, energy, and money, but then the experience is priceless. I feel like I'm just starting to take things seriously. For a long time it was my school project.
There’s a juxtaposition to your designs that I love – they're prim but they're sexy, they’re contemporary but vintage-looking, all at the same time. Is that something you do on purpose?
The most important thing is a good silhouette and having the right shape for the foot. In general, though, even when I was just designing footwear, I had the whole picture in my mind: the clothes she would wear those with. The car she's going to drive and which purse she's going to put her Xanax in; that's how it was working. I have my personal relationship with the Dorateymur woman – I move along and she comes with me, or I follow her.
Is she the same woman evolving each season or a different woman for each collection?
I think she's always the same woman but she's open for improvement or change. She's just growing up – I'm growing up.
Tell me about the mule, because you were designing them before they became a trend again... What did people think when you first showed them?
They said they were granny shoes. Who cares – I carried on. I didn’t think ‘My style is going to start from this,' I just liked the shape and the elegance of it.
And you’ve moved into bags, too: do you love them as much as shoes?
Absolutely. Because I love dressing my woman in anything. We had jewellery last season. It was only for the show but then it was as enjoyable as doing the other things, because you get to build a character. Whatever that character needs to tell the story of that season, I'll do it.
Everyone from Solange to Bella are huge fans of yours. Who else have you loved to see wearing your pieces, and who would you love to dress?
Seeing Sigourney Weaver was amazing – we were all gasping. That was cute. Marina Abramovic was a cute one. Meryl Streep could be amazing but I can easily say that if Julia Roberts or Angelina Jolie would, that's the moment I would get starstruck.
I love that you’re leaning towards older women rather than teen models... In the lookbook this season there are a couple of older models featured – is that something you're drawn to?
I'm not an ageist person at all in my personal relationships or model selections, with men or women, I'm not ageist. We're all going to get older, you know.
That's refreshing though because youth is still very much the currency of fashion...
Are they not incredible, though?
So beautiful! So talk me through the lookbook concept...
It's called School Run and it's about those mothers who take their kids to school in the morning. I have a school next to my house in Hampstead and every morning the street is packed with huge cars and it's all about the bags and the yoga trousers worn with the husbands Anoraks... One of my friends told me that when her mother did the school run she would dress her upper body because she wouldn’t leave the car, she’d just talk to the other mothers through the window, and she’s wearing slippers or whatever on the bottom – I just love that.
Who are the other women you drew inspiration from for it?
Mica Ertegun, the wife of the founder of Atlantic records. Millicent Rogers – she was the best at accessorising. The artist Tamara De Lempicka... I can count hundreds of women I’m inspired by.
And what about you – if you could wear one style of shoe for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It would be just a plain, quite low, men's boot because it goes with everything. A plain boot with that just grabs your ankle and lifts your spirit, I love that. I bought the ones I’m wearing from a very old shop in Portugal. The shop owner was 94 years old and he was about to close the shop forever – these shoes he’d had from the ‘90s. Once I start wearing a shoe, I wear it until it dies.