One of my favorite places to get lost in Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar. I could spend hours walking the ancient aisles, searching for souvenirs, spices, sweets… With 61 streets in one of the world’s largest & oldest covered markets, and 3,000 shops, there is plenty to see!
Most of the salesmen try to entice you into their shop, “Lady, one minute to look!” I smile.
But it’s the fabrics that I am after. Two years ago I first fell in love with ikat prints and designed my Istanbul Collection. What else could I have called it? On this trip, I fell in love again, with the newest assortment of silks in vibrant colors and prints. It was tough to choose! After a friendly chat about life in France, and the cost of sending kids to private schools in Turkey, over a cup of tea of course, I selected fabrics for a new collection.I can’t wait to create new clutches! Keep an eye out via instagram and facebook…
On my recent trip to Istanbul, my friend and I decided to indulge in the Turkish bath culture, the hammam. In the tradition of physical and spiritual purification, the body is cleansed and purified from toxins, blood circulation increases and the immune system is stimulated. I had tried a few hammams in my day, but this one, the Ayasofya built in 1556, was special.Historically, hammams were social centers where special occasions were often celebrated.
Most hammams had spiritual components, and in many cases, washing was an essential part of worship. Through religious influence, hammams became a part of everyday life.
The sicaklik (also known as the hararet, caldarium or hot room) is a large marble-tiled room with a Göbek tasi (marble slab called a belly or navel stone). Here the soaping takes place.
I lay on the heated surface post scrubbing, and experienced my first bubble massage.
We had the hammam to ourselves, and I could have spent hours dreaming beneath the ancient starry ceiling, intoxicated by the warmth of the marble and the heavenly massage.
Alas, it was time to go as I was abruptly woken from the dream. Next stop, Grand Bazaar.
One of my creative passions (other than designing bags) is decorating. Finding just the right furniture and accessories to fill the space and create a home. Since moving to our new apartment, this is exactly what I have been doing. With the approval of my Italian, of course. (Thankfully, he usually agrees with my taste.) In need of a carpet for the living room I thought why not find one in Istanbul? And with the help of our local friends during our recent visit, that is exactly what we did.
Rather than brave the Grand Bazaar with the tourists, Emre took us to the street of rugs. And there began our hunt for the perfect piece to complete our Parisian mid-century modern salon.
The friendly sales people, who were busy mending a carpet when we entered, were more than pleased to help us, having many options of traditional woven kilims as well as patchwork rugs.
We were shown dozens of rugs, mostly the patchwork style which I had quickly fallen in love with for it’s ancient yet modern allure. And then the bargaining began… Which was the chosen rug?
An elegant black and white patchwork, that fits perfectly with our decor, and is the best souvenir we could have brought home. I knew this was our rug as soon as I saw it, but what fun to experience running around the carpet stores! Now perhaps a trip to Morocco for a lamp?