David A. Carol riffs with Yaz Bukey, queen of plexiglass trompe l’oeil sophistication. Photo: Serkan Emiroglu
YAZ, you grew up the daughter of a Turkish Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Algiers. How would you describe your childhood, and how has it shaped your artistic approach?
My childhood was like living in a golden cage. My parents were movie lovers, so I was able to watch all kinds of films at a very young age. I guess that’s how I first developed my love of images. I started to buy LPs, choosing the albums by their covers. It was album artwork from bands such as Culture Club that opened my eyes to dressing up, and new possibilities with hair and make-up.
How did a last generation Ottoman princess become ‘The Queen of Plexiglass’?
I did exactly the opposite of what I was programmed to do. From a very early age I knew I had to create my own identity. I was seeking freedom.
Which qualities first attracted you to the material of Plexiglass?
I love this material because it’s capricious. I developed a trompe l’oeil technique to allow me to tell my stories. I pushed it so far because I wanted this material to be seen as precious. That’s why all my pieces are entirely handmade, and my accessories have become regarded as
How would you describe your own work to someone who hasn’t seen it before?
Colourful, sexy and story-telling. It makes people cheer up, and often has a double meaning. You could say it’s trompe l’oeil sophisti-pop.
You seem to find inspiration in the fantasy imagery of exotic locations.
It’s not necessarily about locations. I dive into an existing story – it could be a movie, a song, a muse – and I transform it. My autumn/winter collection was inspired by the city in which I was born, Istanbul, but my research began with Alice in Wonderland. That may not be obvious when you see the collection, but the story goes like this . . .
You are walking in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and you cross a mysterious black cat and start to follow him. You fall through a hole trying not to lose the cat and suddenly find yourself in a big room from a decadent Ottoman era. There are belly dancers, snake charmers, boys playing backgammon and smoking shisha . . . This is my fantasy world.
When starting on a collection, where does the first kernel of inspiration come from, and how would you describe your creative process?
Images, music, movies, muses . . . my creative process is like making a movie. I am both the director and the actor. I choose the music that will play in my office for the entire season. I dress up as the characters I will become in my movie. I live my collections.
What’s it like to collaborate with other designers, and who would you most like to work with?
It’s a different process when you delve into other people’s minds. I like to explore materials other than Plexiglass. It becomes a completely different story when we come together. I would love to collaborate with a haute joaillerie brand such as Van Cleef or Cartier.
You once said that dreaming is “the best moment” of your day, and that you were going through a “flying phase”. How have your dreams been recently?
Oh, I love dreaming and most of the time I can remember them. They are very important in my creative process as they make my day. Sometimes, I concentrate on a dream that I had, and I can see a continuation! Dreams are my secret garden.
How much time have you spent on Bali, and how do you spend your days and nights when you’re here?
I went to three spots. First, I was with my long-time friend Ozlem Esen. Then I went to Ubud, and finally to the Bukit Peninsula to a wonderful place called the Temple Lodge. I also saw my ‘forever friends’, the KTZ boys. I love their work and Marjan’s too.
Could the Island of the Gods one day inspire a Yazbukey collection?
Of course, but I don’t like to go to a place and create right after a collection. Bali is now in my heart and my dreams. I will come back for sure. Years ago, I had dreamed of this place without having previously seen any pictures and then I saw it in real-life. The shade of green in Ubud is a colour that exists only there.