Wandering back up Serdar-? Ekrem and past the Georges hotel will bring you to Lilipud (26A; 90-212/252-7173; lilipud.com), where the racks are filled with girly-twirly dresses accented with ruffles and ribbon. In the basement space, owner Nilüfer Giritlio?lu displays her well-priced bead and metalwork necklaces. On the other side of the street, Galata’s arty inhabitants hang out at mismatched tables outside Mavra (31A; 90-212/252-7488) a café and artisanal boutique that serves Turkish- and Mexican-inspired dishes like kapali zarf—tortillas filled with spiced chicken, sautéed vegetables, and melted cheddar cheese.
Down the road at the first corner, a black doorway opens to the showroom of another local talent, Simay Bülbül (22 ?ahkulu Bostan Aokak; 90-212/292-4586; simaybulbul.com), who displays her sultry yet elegant dresses and slouchy tunics in jersey, mesh, and silk with leather detailing. it’s a space worth lingering at, but at some point you’ll want to hit the cobbles again, because farther up Serdar-? Ekrem, past a row of dilapidated buildings awaiting their own refurbishment, is S?r Çini ve Seramik Atölyesi (No. 38/1; 90-212/293-3661; sircini.com), where artist Sadullah Çekmece creates decorative ceramics and tableware bearing traditional ottoman motifs in pomegranate red, turquoise, black, and white.
As a final stop, duck beneath the chic navy-blue awning announcing Atelier 55 (No.55; 90-212/245-3255; atelier-55.com), a treasure trove of such homegrown designers as Misela—maker of python iPad sleeves and evening bags in this season’s neon hues—and Batya Kebudi, who crafts delicate gold rings. Looks by obscure but talented overseas designers hang alongside Japanese-inspired deconstructed frocks from Turkey’s own Aysin Sun-gur.
While most Galata addresses are open to the public, access to secret ateliers requires the services of a professional insider such as Michele Kafer Gultan, founder of the concierge service Turistambul (turistambul.com; US$250 per day excluding transport). The statuesque Brazilian expat leads the way into private studios like that of celebrated artist Ismail Acar (ismailacar.com.tr), who is as well known here for his masterful modern interpretations of ottoman warriors, harems, and the ornate ceiling of the Hagia Sophia, as he is for his fabulous five-story workshop, which is set atop ancient ritual baths.
Originally appeared in the October/November 2012 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Bully For Galata”)