“It’s the craziest place I’ve ever experienced”, says Turkish model Öykü Baştaş, referring to Istanbul, the city where she was born. Baştaş might only be 21, but she’s already secured her place in the fashion industry, counting Gucci as her first runway appearance and becoming the first Turkish model to ever walk for the Italian house. Since then, her career has seen her travelling the world, but she admits Istanbul is still the place where she feels the happiest. “It’s full of surprises”, she continues.
Although Baştaş had always secretly dreamt of becoming a model, it wasn’t until she turned 18 that she trusted her instincts and decided to share a picture of herself on Instagram using the IMG scouting hashtag #weloveyourgenes, which soon landed her six different offers from agencies based in New York. “I didn’t know what to do, it’s very hard for us to travel and get a visa”, explains Baştaş. Luckily, a few months later, she managed to travel to the American city with her high school, a move that quickly catapulted her into professional modelling.
Her androgynous and effortless beauty has seduced some of the most influential names of fashion, having walked for brands like, Acne Studios and MSGM during her first season. Her presence on catwalks isn’t only refreshing; it’s most importantly a reminder that in 2019, anyone and everyone should be considered to be beautiful and be given the space to be visible. “I was the odd one in school and no one knew my name”, she says before adding, “I needed to prove to myself that I could be more”. Far from tired standards and conventions as well as racial and gender stereotypes, Baştaş is leading the way for a new definition of beauty, championing individuality above all.
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With its rich history, grandiose mosques, mouth-watering food and buzzing nightlife, the city where “Europe meets Asia” (as it’s often described) never fails to impress. So we asked Baştaş to tell us her five favourite things to do in Istanbul.
Eat at Yeni LokantaYeni Lokanta is a very nice restaurant in Beyoğlu. They do Anatolian fusion cuisine, it’s a mix of local ingredients with new recipes. And I love the interior design of the restaurant; it’s a small place but makes you feel really comfortable. They also have their own cocktails. I particularly love the cocktails they’re doing with Rakı.
Watch at football match in Beşiktaş
I like watching football and I’m a fan of Beşiktaş (it’s a big football team in turkey, and also the name of the neighbourhood). So I really like hanging out in Beşiktaş during the football games. There are big screens in every cafe and everyone gets together to watch the game and it’s really loud. Everyone drinks a few beers and sing songs together. There’s a spirit that gathers everyone! You can go watch the game in İnönü Stadium, but I prefer to watch it in a cafe with my friends.
Go on a boat ride on the Bosphorus My boyfriend and I do this very often cause it’s just so amazingly beautiful. I love to get on a boat and just go around the Bosphorus and the golden horn. It’s very peaceful. You can just watch the city from the sea and it’s an incredible view.
Shop at Eminönü
Eminönü is the craziest place on earth! You can literally find everything, from stationeries, jewellery, ornaments, vintage clothing, and a lot of other things. It’s always so crowded and everyone there is trying to sell you something. I love the atmosphere.
Go out for a drink at BeyoğluI love how nightlife in Istanbul is so random! Bars are open everyday and you can just go out in Beyoğlu (Istanbul’s nightlife hub) and find a bar open at 4am in the morning or even an open restaurant. There is another life that happens during night-time, but you can always still do the exact same thing that you do in the daytime. And you can also find a techno club right next to a Turkish folk music bar. I like how it’s unpredictable and contrasted.