Bunyamin Aydin has been shifting paradigms with his ground-breaking collections at Les Benjamins. The Spring Summer 2023 collection is no different. It plays on Aydin’s recollection of his time in Dubai, specifically close to the Meydan racecourse. He often taps into his partner and Head of Womenswear at the label, Lamia Alotaishan Aydin and her experiences. For her, it’s the Saudi Arabia equestrian culture she witnessed growing up.
The collection draws inspiration from Western design codes of horse racing and is married with the mastery and dressage of its Eastern lineage. The Spring Summer 2023 collection recontextualised the ceremonial aesthetics, resulting in incredibly fluid streetwear cuts.
“When I was living in Dubai, I was in Business Bay, and my house was really close to Meydan, where all the big horse races take place,” says Aydin,“ Lamia would always tell me about her childhood, and how she was inspired by dressing up for the horse races she would attend, and create custom pieces for. It’s just like a fashion show, everyone dresses up.”
The collection is split into two sub-stories and traces the parallel themes associated with the sport. For menswear, bomber jackets and knee-length shorts trace the silhouette of clothing known to be worn by jockeys, while a bralette and an accompanying matching maxi skirt are offered for women. Prints across men’s and womenswear feature Les Benjamin’s signature Turkish carpet print and are echoed in the relaxed-fit performance shapes and tailoring. On one of the menswear pieces, Aydin mirrored a bird’s-eye view of the racecourse and used it as a print.
The second story mirrors the intention of the ceremonial dress in horse racing. The formality of the dress code in horse racing and its ceremonial aspect ties in with the rich and illustrious history of the sport in the East. Elements of Bedouin history and their relationships to horses come in hand-stitching and embellishment, while hand-crochet adds a layer of warmth.
“One of the staple details of the season is hand-crochet, and we [Bunyamin and Lamia] basically made a women’s crochet dress and this men’s crochet top.” says the Les Benjamins designers. It’s our most avant-garde pieces in the collection, and it reminds us of the heritage and craftsmanship inherent in horse racing culture.”
Accessories from the collection include metal plates, horseshoes, and tassels hand-stitched onto these tailored garments, allowing for the juxtaposition of Western horse racing and the Bedouin lifestyle.
“That’s why I called the collection ‘The Horse of the East’,” says Aydin. “It’s a mysterious approach on who and what the horse is, and what it is about. The horse race and the ceremony.”