Umit Benan and Ece Sukan Benan, in his own designs, with Sukan, in an Umit Benan leather shirt, Merarica skirt, and Emilio Pucci boots, at his Milan apartment.
Since launching his men’s line in 2009, the Turkish designer Umit Benan has unexpectedly earned himself quite a few female customers—including his fiancée, the Turkish fashion writer and stylist Ece Sukan. Known on the street-style blogs for her deft play with different eras, cultures, and colors (“She makes a beautiful mess,” Benan notes), Sukan, who for nearly a decade owned Istanbul’s first high-end vintage store, has in recent years added his tailored coats and button-down shirts to her wardrobe. “I like that masculine look a lot,” she says. As, too, does Benan, who, in addition to planning a move from Milan to New York, hopes to start designing a women’s line within the year. “For me, power dressing is the most feminine look,” he says. “Because the women projecting this strong, protective image tend to be the most fragile inside.” Like any red-blooded male, Benan admits he doesn’t put much thought into his own denim-heavy style (“I’ll wear one outfit for 10 days in a row”) but says he loves a woman in a short skirt. Among his favorite looks that Sukan has put together recently is a green paillette Marc Jacobs dress, flat Balenciaga buckle boots, and a long double-breasted coat of his that flashed a little leg. “It was sexy but also aggressive—which is very attractive to men.”
Louis Leeman and Erica Pelosini Leeman, in a custom Gucci jacket, April 77 jeans, and his own loafers, and Pelosini, in a T-shirt, Balmain skirt, and Tom Ford heels, at the Mark hotel in New York
Erica Pelosini, an extroverted Italian stylist with a penchant for bed-head hair and ultra-opulent Balmain ensembles, met the Dutch shoe designer Louis Leeman, who speaks softly and wears custom-tailored suits, at fashion school in Florence, Italy, nine years ago. They were opposites then, too: He was alternative, with bleached-out hair; she was conservative, favoring pleated Dolce & Gabbana skirts. But from the beginning they shared a philosophy: “We both love the mix of things,” Pelosini explains. “Tailored and rock ’n’ roll, T-shirts and couture.” Four years ago the couple, who split their time between Paris and Florence and plan to marry this summer on Capri, found they agreed on something else—that the men’s shoe market was sorely lacking in well-constructed classic styles (his forte) with a bit of flair (hers). “Men really care about little details,” says Leeman, sporting a pair of his eponymous handmade penny loafers with a sliver of metal at the toe. “I’m not going to wear a suit with no sleeves. But when I go out at night, I want something different.” With a growing number of both male and female customers (the latter buy the shoes in the smaller sizes, which go down to a women’s 39), the two are currently in the process of opening their first New York boutique, as well as finding an apartment there—if they can just decide on a neighborhood. “He wants uptown,” says Pelosini, shaking her head. “I want downtown.”
Justin O'Shea and Veronika Heilbrunner O’Shea, in a custom Doyle + Mueser suit and shirt and a Louis Vuitton tie, and Heilbrunner, in an Acne sweater and trousers, in their former apartment in Munich.
Regularly attired in slim three-piece suits, with tattoos poking out from under his shirt sleeves, Justin O’Shea, the hirsute buying director for the online boutique Mytheresa.com, is one of the more recognizable characters on the fashion scene. His girlfriend of a year and a half, Veronika Heilbrunner, is the site’s willowy senior fashion editor. Together, the Berlin-based duo tends to turn heads—a fact that O’Shea, who grew up in the Australian bush and claims he went shirtless for the first 10 years of his life, plays down. “I think I dress boring, because the only things in my wardrobe are suits and shirts,” he says, citing Prada, Acne, and Doyle + Mueser among his preferred labels. Heilbrunner, who worked as a fashion editor for several German magazines before a besotted O’Shea lured her to the company (“Fortunately, she’s very good at her job,” he notes), assumes a similarly laid-back approach to her high-fashion ensembles. “It’s important that I’m comfortable,” she says. To that end, she often pairs elegant Valentino and Erdem dresses with Doc Martens or sneakers and Nike sport socks—a styling trick that has only earned her more attention. “It makes it easy to run around all day,” she says. “But I also like to break the rules a bit.”
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