As I am currently living in Istanbul, Turkey, I have noticed so many well-dressed people and especially the dapper look amongst the older people is quite amazing to behold.
This "dapper look" originated in 1924, when the founder of modern Turkey, Atatürk began the reform movement to modernize the Turkish nation. During this period a big series of political, legal, cultural, social and economic policy changes that were designed to convert what’s left of Ottoman Empire into the secular Republic of Turkey. This was followed by a thorough modernization, with a particular focus on Turkish fashion, which to this day, still shows among the older generation and is being passing on to the new generation in such a cool way.
Whenever I see these people, I just smile and tell them they look awesome. But Berlin photographer Zoe Spawton, went one step further.
As Zoe Spawton noticed an extremely dapper older man walking past her coffee shop everyday in the Berlin borough of Neukölln, she began photographing his outfits, which range from three-piece suits to thuggish street style. Over the months she has gotten to know her mustachioed muse: she discovered that he is Ali, an 83 year old retired doctor from Turkey, who now works as a tailor in Germany.
Most of what Ali wears is handmade by him and he rarely wears the same combination twice. After getting his permission, Spawnton (originally from Australia) started a blog called WHAT ALI WORE.
At first Ali thought it was funny, but “now he is the one who gives me instructions and shows me where he would like to pose.”
She calls him, “Uncle Ali”, which is the traditional way to refer to the older people in Turkey and Uncle Ali has some restrictions, if he isn’t feeling well or if he thinks she has already photographed him in an outfit or he isn’t dressed neatly, he'd rather not be photographed. They have become friends and “once we went together on a trip to pick apples, which was very nice.”
When she tried to explain to him (with the help of google translate) that he is now an online celebrity and might be recognized he seemed quite pleased.
So far, browsing through all the pictures of her blog, it seems that his style is no different to most of the trends I come across here in Istanbul, and no trend is truly off limits: denim on denim, monochrome, all-over prints, Ali's worn it all with his own special flair.
It seems that there is still allot that we can learn from Ali, besides that we can should pair a matching baseball cap with a polished suit, at the very least, it's that great style is ageless, unexpected, and sometimes, right under your nose.
To see more of Ali's awesome outfits check out Zoe's website.
Ali on the left