Out of Office: Martine Assouline in Turkey
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
Assouline, the New York-based publishing company, has been capturing the spirit of its subjects for over 20 years. Husband and wife Prosper and Martine Assouline specialize in beautifully illustrated luxury books covering art, fashion and lifestyles. A recent trip and expansion into Turkey has prompted the publishing of two books– The Grand Bazaar and Light of Istanbul.
“My first day at the Bazaar was like discovering ‘Ali Baba’s treasures’,” says Martine. This experience, thanks to our partner, Irem Kinay, inspired a beautifully illustrated tome displaying an overview of the history and legacy of luxury art crafts in Turkey. Interior designer Serdar Gulgun, art expert Ottoman, and esteemed photographer Laziz Hamani reveal the vibrant spirit of the Grand Bazaar through stories presented in this volume.
In Light of Istanbul photographer Jean-Michel Berts turns his masterful eye to this enchanting city, capturing iconic masterpieces of architecture mixed with hidden places in the “mysterious enchanting moment just before the first second of dawn…you get the keys of the city to discover it when everybody is still asleep,” says Martine.
It’s Martine’s keen sense of experience that has inspired a beautiful illustration of Istanbul architecture and Turkish culture. Next time, I’ll take Martine’s advice and get to know Istanbul with a Turkish coffee and then a boat ride.
Martine Assouline’s guide to visiting Istanbul:
NM: How would you describe Istanbul to someone who has never been?
MA: For me it is an oriental New York. Same energy, same beautiful chaos of styles, people, cultures… same power of a big city facing the sea.
NM: What do you find most inspiring about the Turkish culture?
MA: Ottoman culture; the sultan’s world is an open door to imagination! Before was the Byzantine Empire which is a fantastic period but it is too far from me. After, comes Ataturk who brought Turkey to modernity; another fabulous moment for this country, but less dream-filled. The history of Turkey is extremely rich and discovery never ends.
NM: Describe the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
MA: Impossible! Too much to say! To see! To smell! To discover. You have to go, or…buy our book!
NM: Describe a good day in Istanbul.
MA: Turkish coffee with Turkish Delight on a terrace in front of the Bosphorus. Visiting museums and exhibits (so many), lunch at Luca (in the middle of Bebek and close to our boutique) where all the young active people of Istanbul go at least once a day. Full afternoon at the Bazaar with a car waiting for us at the exit. Shower and rest to reenergize in preparation for a long carefree night starting at Zuma. (Most of the people arrive by boat!) And to top off a perfect evening, a nightcap while dancing in one of the many discotheques in the city.
NM: Describe Turkish beauty.
MA: The woman I have in mind that embodies the most Turkish beauty, is blonde with a very singular sharped face; strong, proud and elegant lines. I think that she reflects my vision of Turkish beauty. Her name is Yosun, she is a friend.
NM: Name one misconception about Turkey.
MA: Turkey is a rich developed country, [whereas] people have a more “exotic” vision of it.
NM: What other Turkish cities do you enjoy?
MA: Bodrum – a beach place, the St Tropez of Turkey.
NM: Name one of the most beautiful architectural spots in the city.
MA: The Topkapi Palace & Collection are enchanting and a place for inspiration. With beautiful ceramics, paintings, and enlightenment architecture, one time in this magical place is not enough to capture its magnificence.
NM: Don’t leave Istanbul without…?
MA: Anything in fabric!
Shop Assouline at NeimanMarcus.com and select Neiman Marcus stores.