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Banu Bora Mumcu, Founder of In the Mood for Love

Photo credit: In the mood for love

Creator Banu Bora Mumcu founded In The Mood For Love in 2016 with interior architect Rezzan Benardete. A figurehead in Istanbul's fashion scene, In The Mood For Love takes its inspiration from Turkish hospitality and cinema, reflecting the cultural richness and the energy of the city bridging Europe and Asia. sat down to speak with Banu Bora Mumcu, designer and philanthropist, in the midst of preparing her new collection. How was In The Mood For Love born?
Banu Bora Mumcu: A few years ago, my partner and I created a concept store in Istanbul called Midnight Express. It was the first space of its kind, selling Turkish designers you couldn't find anywhere else at the time. But my education as a fashion designer caught up with me quickly. I met Rezzan, an interior architect, through my husband, and we had the idea of launching a loungewear line to sell at her interior decor boutique. Having people over is a big part of our country's culture, we have an excellent sense of hospitality. But when you host a gathering, there are certain formalities to be respected. For example, you can't be better-dressed than the people you're having over. You should be enthusiastic, welcoming, affable, and really make that atmosphere felt. I had all that in mind when I thought of the sequined pyjamas, the first product we launched. It was an immediate success. We have a faithful community here who's supported us in the undertaking.

Why did you choose this name for your brand?
I'm spiritual, and, in life, we sometimes need to take some time to reflect upon what path to take... Before I started the brand, I was really in that frame of mind. It was like taking a deep breath before setting off on a new adventure. There's a mystic poet named Rumi, he lived in the 13th century and influenced Sufism, who I really love and find inspirational. He's become far more well-known now. Madonna has some of his poems. He's the one who said "Love is the bridge between you and everything."
I really believe in that, and it's a philosophy that guides me and has allowed me to reconnect with my dreams. I really believe we need to do things with heart, putting all of our love into it, otherwise it won't last, it becomes dry, dull. You get bored.

Photo credit: In the mood for love

We wondered if you picked the name because of the film by Wong Kar Wai, especially because we've heard you're a movie-lover.
I've always watched loads of films. I grew up in Turkey, a fairly closed-off country, with limited vectors for escapism...I became an avid reader and a huge fan of cinema, my second passion. When I was a kid, I only watched movies that were on TV, Sundays at ten in the morning. They were usually stupid Westerns, but I never missed them! When I got older and was allowed to go out with my friends, we lived in a pretty rural neighborhood, we'd walk for fifteen minutes to the train station to take the train to the closest cinema. I'll never forget the first time I went to a movie theater. I fell in love that day. You're right to say that In The Mood For Love is inspired by the film by Wong Kar Wai.

So cinema inspires your designs?
Yes, of course! Because when you're watching a movie for two hours or so, you put yourself in the character's shoes and forget yourself. It allows us to escape the world we live in, which is something that fascinates me. You can be someone else, entirely elsewhere, for two hours. It's like a dream.

To describe your creations, you talk about a collision between boudoir and haute couture. Can you tell us more about that?
In The Mood For Love is above all about emotions, feelings, interiority. The inner world of women is deeply inspiring to me and it comes to life in young women's rooms. We dream in our rooms. Our early pieces came from that kind of aura; pyjamas, kimonos and nightdresses. And then we got the idea to orient all that outside of the private sphere, to think about going out in it, having a good time, and maintaining that feeling of interiority in ourselves. Elevating all of it with craftsmanship and all the sophisticated details of haute couture.

Photo credit: In the mood for love

The "house party" spirit that's joyful and festive is at the heart of your brand, especially in your totally sequined looks. What role does celebration play in your lifestyle?
I was brought up in a home that always had a lot of people over. My father was from Montenegro, and Turkish was his second language. He would meet people and invite them into our home, and he'd tell my mother and I that they were cousins from Montenegro. They'd stay at our place, but we knew that he had really just met them. We loved having people over, Rezzan is like that too. We love hosting get-togethers and I think we're pretty good at it! It's important to share, to celebrate.

"We're very happy to be starting this exclusive partnership with Printemps, giving a new life to our Spring-Summer 2020 collection with this unique, creative, and impactful installation."

Rezan, your associate and co-founder of the brand, is an interior architect, and you're a fashion designer. How do you split the work?
Rezzan studied finance and economy, so she supervises the business side of things. I take care of creation and production. We're two very different people; I'm more introverted and Rezzan is more extraverted. She speaks, I think and create. We're totally complementary.

And it seems that you two are also great friends.
Yes, absolutely, and I know her family well too. She really has excellent taste. She's a wonderful friend and I trust her implicitly. There's a significant age difference, and I feel a bit like an older sister to her. We share much of our lives outside of work.

How has fashion developed in Istanbul and Turkey more generally?
It's changed a lot in 20 years. Back then, it was considered strange to be a fashion designer, or at the very least it was still quite rare. Today, things have really evolved, and there's a generation of emerging designers creating their own brands. They've also become known internationally thanks to social media. The world is more open to creators from other countries. This logic also holds in Turkey, where the industry is expanding and new brands are being launched.

Photo credit: In the mood for love

How does Istanbul inspire you?
We have such a vibrant, resilient culture, and the energy of this city is truly endless, it's very stimulating. Moving between different neighborhoods in Istanbul, you feel like you could be moving between countries. The city has so many different facets. It's also very densely populated, with a great diversity of ethnicities that contribute to its cultural richness. In Turkey, we're accustomed to crisis; there's always a lot going on politically, and even geographically...we get earthquakes here! So I can be creative in chaotic situations.

Have you made commitments to promoting sustainable fashion?
We take on a lot of socially-oriented work. It's become very widespread and everyone's talking about it, but in our culture it's not really appropriate to speak of who you help. We give support to people and charitable associations, but we don't like to broadcast it. Quite simply because it's supposed to be that way. My partner is a great philanthropist, and so is her family, but we don't really discuss those things.

You prefer to keep it private?
We're committed to our people, our country, to changing lives. We offer employment to people in need. But indeed, we don't really like to talk about it.

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