Celebrated US fashion designer Tory Burch shares her recommendations for Istanbul, a city that has inspired a number of her collections.

I visited istanbul for the first time when I was a university student and have been back several times since. It’s a beautiful, ancient city with an incredible history and culture, from the sultans and pashas to the mix of old and modern architecture.

My ideal day in Istanbul starts at the Topkapi Palace, which was the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for about 400 years. I love seeing how Turkish art and its different architectural styles have evolved over time. It’s an incredibly inspiring place for me as a designer—the colours and graphics in the tilework, textiles and architecture have all found their way into our collections through the years. 

For lunch, I’d stop off at Konyali, a restaurant at the palace that overlooks the Bosphorus, and order an assortment of mezes—small plates of traditional Turkish food. After that, I would head to the Blue Mosque—a few years ago, we tried to recreate the beautifully faded quality of the traditional Iznik tiles, which had withstood centuries of wind and sun in the Bosphorus, for one of our print patterns. 

In the late afternoon, I’d go to the Grand Bazaar, one of the most exciting shopping experiences ever. It’s one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 streets and more than 3,000 shops with jewellery, textiles, pottery, glazed tiles, bronze, leather and carpets. I love wandering the streets and side alleys, stopping at the stalls and stepping into market after market. 

“I love collecting china and porcelain, and Iznik and Seljuk pottery is some of the most beautiful.
I use it all the time when I’m entertaining, from small family brunches during the summer to bigger dinners”

One bazaar highlight is visiting my friend, the Turkish jewellery designer Sevan Biçakçi, at his shop. His signature technique is reverse intaglio, which allows him to craft scenic views—such as tiny replicas of the Blue Mosque or Scheherazade’s Palace—inside a gemstone. I have a Sevan ring with a small Hagia Sophia replica inside a stone and I wear it every day as a reminder of Istanbul.

I’d finish the day with dinner with my Turkish business partner—I love to travel by boat to his home on the Asian side of the Bosphorus as the sun is setting. The city lights are just so beautiful against the night sky.  

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