Born in Australia to Turkish and Albanian parents, Şener Besim has risen to become a prominent name in the luxury eyewear industry. His eyewear has been worn by the likes of actress Tilda Swinton and Instagram Director of Fashion Partnerships Eva Chen.
Şener has recently broadened his range to include exquisite luxury jewellery; debuting an exclusive collection at Sydney fashion boutique Parlour X. Each piece in the collection is made with 18-karat gold or sterling silver with hints of turquoise and onyx crystal.
Şener spoke with The CEO Magazine about how he first got involved in the fashion industry and where he gets inspiration from for his designs.
When did you make the decision to forge a career in the fashion industry?
A pivotal moment took place when I was 10 or 11. It was when I first turned the pages of a fashion magazine and was immediately transfixed by the seductive images. This memory still remains with such clarity in my mind and I can recall several campaigns in detail.
I was a young boy with mixed European descent living in middle suburbia Australia and I suddenly felt transcended to another world. It was a mesmerising world brought to me via the pages of Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris and Vogue Australia.
At the age of 14 I acted upon this obsession and was accepted as a work experience candidate at a reputable tailor that specialised in suits. I was surrounded by such brands as Valentino, Reporter and Cerruti and I remember the senior tailors fussing over exquisite detailing. I loved it.
For approximately six years, this environment exposed me to the finest textiles, detailing and, above all, the desire for more. It was a critical period within the fashion world as it was the 1980s – the rise of the ‘power’ brands. In particular, it was Giorgio Armani who I gravitated towards.
After I completed a Fashion Merchandising Diploma, I undertook a Degree in Commerce. This decision allowed me to work abroad and focus my travels throughout Europe on the fashion industry.
What prompted your decision to offer fine jewellery in addition to eyewear?
For some time, I had been practicing various creative investigations but never with a sole focus on outcomes. I did not want to undertake a process where I’d immediately identify the form. Exploring interpersonal notions eventually lead me to the manifestation of luxury jewellery.
The Ottomans achieved the highest level of architecture in their lands. They mastered the technique of building vast inner spaces confined by seemingly weightless, yet large scale, domes and achieving perfect harmony between inner and outer spaces, as well as articulating light and shadow. Both eyewear and jewellery lend themselves perfectly to this.
I am drawn to luxury products that sit at the edge of fashion. I’m excited by the way in which accessories interact with fashion but also exist in their own independent universe.
Fashion tends to be motivated by speed and change. Accessories on the other hand operate at a different pace and have a timelessness that intrigues me.
I see my designs as artworks that exist outside the seasonality of fashion but enhance a fashionable wardrobe.
Can you tell us about the way your interest in metaphysics has shaped your designs?
I put forward the idea of pursuing the internal spirit within my forms. Of course, there are natural responses to elements I see. The relationship between negative and positive, geometrical arrangements and modern gestures all have an influence.
However, my motivation through this collection is not to mimic actual Ottoman elements but draw from their spiritual and internal realms. Symbology is an important exploration and is instilled within the collection. The inclusion of onyx stones within each piece identifies stillness, precision and eternal ideologies.
What aspects of your heritage most profoundly influence your work?
Middle-Eastern-Islamic influence combined with that of the Byzantine era which underlines Ottoman architecture. The tension of the two was interesting and more beautiful than anything I had focused on before. The mosques and bridges were of particular interest; domed buildings with geometric shapes that kept highlighting curve, light, shadow and technical perfection.
Earlier Ottoman architecture was highlighted by arches, domes and cubic buildings combined with triangular spaces within. These elements are reflected in my work; curved forms and angled facets.
I chose to use this as a metaphor for who I was; a combination of two or more elements that may provide tension but overall has the potential to be something more, something unique and something interesting.
This process became extremely therapeutic and inspiring, and led to my sketching of shapes and form as I felt that is part of my heritage.
What do you love most about your job?
The constant attempt to express something creative; be it product, display or image. I love this very much.
What is your vision for the future of the brand?
I aim to create an independent luxury brand that sits outside the seasonality of fashion. To create high-quality, timeless pieces that enhance an independently fashionable wardrobe.