British Airways High Life Magazine - Bilge Can of AnatolianCraft
A pair of heritage slippers from her childhood inspired Bilge Can to launch AnatolianCraft in 2016, a slow fashion collection of handmade, hand-embroidered shoes that are more akin to wearable art. She runs the brand with her daughter Begüm, taking care to empower local women artisans in Anatolia.
Istanbul is a city where, despite the current technological age, I still come across coppersmiths, knife grinders, quilt makers, mother-of-pearl artisans and gramophone repairmen. I love living in this city because it always manages to surprise me. It has a unique identity due to its turmoil, history, heritage and strait – and all the peoples and cultures that coexisted here and continue to do so.
Whenever my mother and I were in Kadıköy, I always ate a kup griye dessert at Balyan Patisserie – it’s one of the most memorable tastes from my childhood. I think that places, objects, tastes and even smells have a very important place in memories. I’ve continued this kup griye ritual with my own children.
For me, Galata and Pera are two of Istanbul’s most special neighbourhoods. When I visited my children’s school, I took the ferry from Kadiköy to Karaköy and often walked up the historic Kamondo Stairs on Bankalar Avenue. I also love to stop by the SALT Galata culture complex, and sometimes I stroll by the Galata Tower and down Istiklal Avenue to the Pera Museum. I can’t get enough of looking at the old Istanbul of the Ottoman court painter Fausto Zonaro. Then I head to Pera Café. Its piano once belonged to Maria Callas, which reminds me of the novel Piyano by my favourite writer, Yiğit Okur.
There’s nothing like a lunchtime feast at Kanaat Lokantası in Üsküdar. The staff and interior haven’t changed in years – and nor has the excellent taste of the dishes. Everything it serves is delicious, but the ciğer sarma is my favourite. If it’s winter, try the ekmek kadayıfı with clotted cream. In the summer, the sahlep and clotted cream ice cream are a must.
I visit the Grand Bazaar a lot. For custom-made jewellery, I like Garbis Kürkçü, one of the Bazaar’s most valuable and sincere artisans. Another important stop for me is Sivas Tokat Pazarı, where I get the precious hand-woven kutnu fabric that AnatolianCraft turns into shoes. anatolian-craft.com