An Interview with Serkan Cura
Two years ago, young couturier Serkan Cura gathered all his savings to buy a large part of the stock of feathers of Maison Fevrier, a Parisian plumassier or feather specialist which was closing down. The young designer had previously worked for four years for grand couturier Jean-Paul Gaultier, but he felt it was time to spread his wings. Since then the young couturier has presented three small collections during the Parisian couture week, each using feathers as its key material. His last collection, presented in January, evolved around the theme of “birds of Eden,” as the designer imagined a paradise with flowers, rare exotic birds and even a snake – recreating the scale of the reptile on a tuxedo jacket with the help of green beetle shells. To create his feathered dream, the young designer works on every single feather, one by one, edging them, glueing them on the garments on embroidering them his silhouette. He has devised his own glue which he swears is water resistant. “you could wash them in your washing machine if you wanted,” he quipped. ARTINFO talked to the designer on working with feathers, his Spring Summer 2013 showpieces and his plans for the future.
Have you always been interested in feathers?
As far as I can remember, my first memory of feathers was when I was 13 years old in Brussels. I lived in Brussels near a vintage market where I was used to go every day to look around and to collect some items including feathers.
What attracts you to the material?
Its sensuality, the perfection of the colors of mother nature, the ease to work this wonderful material in all the ways I can imaging, painting, bleaching, cutting, sticking...
Where do you find your feathers, now?
Two years ago, I bought a huge inventory of one of the two last feather houses in Paris which was closing down, Maison Fevrier. There was in the stock an incredible variety of feathers, like pappus, cassoar, heron, a feather of birds of paradise that cannot be found anymore nowadays because the birds are now protected and the only way to get your hands on those is to buy old stocks. I also collect a lot of feathers that come from zoos and farms.
What is the main difficulty in working with feathers?
Time is an important issue, because you need to spend a lot of time on each feather to obtain a perfect result, for example the lady amherst dress required 300 working hours. Of course, one other difficulty for a designer is to restrain yourself so that the collection doesn’t become a "Carnaval of Rio" or go cabaret like Moulin Rouge. When you use feathers, you need to find the balance between the ridiculous and the beauty of Haute Couture.
What type of feathers did you use for this collection?
Black aigrettes with white spots, lady Amherst feathers, ostrich feathers, black crow, special pigeon, male chicken feathers and tutu of aigrettes.
In a couple of dresses it looks like you are using flowers?
On the second look, the flowers are actually made entirely with lady Amherst pheasant feathers. But the last look is made entirely of hand-made silk flowers, which was the first time I didn’t use feathers in a look.
Most of your looks include a corset and a lot of transparencies. Why?
I like to emphasize the sensual curves of the body, hence the corset, and for this spring/summer collection I wanted to highlight women's bodies and I think transparencies are a good way to do it. And don't forget the theme of the collection; Adam and Eve were naked in the garden!
How has this collection evolved from your previous one?
I’ve worked differently with feathers and fabrics. For example, the flowers made with lady Amherts feathers are new in my work. Also I didn't use this time very long feathers like in my previous collections, I’ve also completely transformed feathers for this collection, I did not use "raw" feathers. I’ve tried to use different fabrics, such as the silk flowers and also beetle elytron (the forewing). I love to experiment with new techniques and I will continue doing so in my Haute Couture looks.
You are designing dream showpieces; can this transfer into a viable business?
As you say, these are dream showpieces for the moment. My plan is to create pieces that are linked to these dream pieces but that can be more easily worn. I try to respect the Paris Haute Couture tradition by having all my pieces made in Paris in my little workshop. I am sure this can become a viable business but this will take time. I am impatient but I am building at present the solid base of my Haute Couture House.
Do you have plans maybe for an accessories line that could use feathers?
I am currently working on an accessories line with feathers. I can’t say too much yet, and I also hope I will be able to come up with a luxury ready-to-wear collection soon. I have a lot of ideas for the future !
Where do you see Serkan Couture in five years?
Always in Paris, and always in the Haute Couture feathers business!