August 2, 2019

Ayşe Dudu Tepe established her name as a journalist and radio host, but when the fashion world discovered the Danish-Turkish beauty her face became well known, too. These days she splits her time between journalism and modelling, and she enjoys being able to communicate through two different but related fabrics: Text and textiles.  

How much do you think about what you wear?

Too little, probably. I’ve always admired people who spend a lot of time and effort on their clothes, perhaps because I tend to do the opposite. I do care about what I wear, but I’m a little scared of the power clothes has. It plays a big part in communicating who you are, and it can steal away the focus from what you’re saying. I tend to downplay my wardrobe and dress down in order to make people focus on what I’m saying, not what I’m wearing. I want to wear my clothes, not have my clothes wear me. 

How has it affected your wardrobe and style that you’ve become a well-known name in the fashion world?

I own more pieces of clothing now than ever before, partly because I receive gifts from some of the designers I work with. But I’d say that the core of my wardrobe is the same, and I still only wear clothes I’d pick up and pay for myself. People are able to recognize my personality and style no matter what I wear. Of course there are times when I wear clothes at a shoot that I don’t feel super comfortable in, and once in a while I’m asked to wear very little clothes for photo shoots. But I’ve learned that it’s just a job, and I’m OK with wearing clothes while modelling that I find slightly revealing, as long as I can recognize some part of myself in it. 

You started your modelling career at an unconventional age and in an unconventional way – what has that been like?

A few years ago I was having fun posting pictures of myself on social media, and a makeup artist told me she thought I had the look and style of the future – very personal and somewhat androgynous. I didn’t think much about it then, but soon after I started getting bookings as a model. I was hired for a few fashion shows and some campaigns, and right now I’m doing castings for fashion week in Copenhagen. I mostly work for designers I know personally and whose vision I share. I don’t like modelling clothes I wouldn’t wear myself. 

Is there a big difference in how you dress for a day at the office as a journalist and for a day of work as a model?

I’ve lived long enough to have my own sense of style, and it isn’t affected by what I do or whom I work with or for. A few days ago I wore jeans and a hoodie to an interview with Denmark’s former foreign secretary, I’ll wear nothing but panties on my Instagram account if I feel like it, and I don’t think about what I wear for jobs or events in the fashion world. I’d be too harsh on myself if I changed what I wore to please other people, I don’t want to give someone else ownership over me or my body. Above all I have to feel comfortable and at home in whatever I wear. 

These days you communicate as a model and as a journalist. What are the biggest differences?

Of course the medium is different, but to me the way of communicating is the same. If you think about it it’s almost the same word – I communicate through text and textile. Whether I sit down to write a text, stand in front of the camera in a designer’s clothes or put on my own clothes in the morning, I try to convey something to the reader or viewer. The difference between the visual world and the textual one is smaller than you might think. 

How has your side gig as model affected your career as a journalist and vice versa?

The fact that my main gig is to write and host radio shows is a huge benefit for me as a model, as the fashion world has been leaning towards models with different backgrounds for a few years. People often come up to me after shows and say that they love seeing a normal person on the catwalk, someone who doesn’t fit the stereotype but brings something personal and different to the catwalk. My Turkish background also means that some Turkish girls see themselves represented in the fashion world, and I think that’s valuable, too. I’m mostly hired as a brand, I’m not a blank page of a model, and for that reason it hasn’t affected my more intellectual career that I now dabble in a more visual world. Whether I work as a model or a journalist I’m a recognizable entity, I’m my own thing. No matter what I wear or do I’m myself, and that’s very important to me. 

A few years ago you launched a much-discussed heartbreak club where people would gather to discuss their sorrows. How does heartbreak affect what you wear?

A few years ago I met a former boyfriend on a street corner. I’d been very broken-hearted after we broke up, and I hadn’t seen him since then, so I called my girlfriend and cried. Her first question was what I’d been wearing and whether I’d looked good. I almost started laughing, ’cause it’d been the last thing on my mind. There is a tendency, though, where people want to look their best and prove that they’re attractive after a breakup, but I really don’t fit that stereotype. I usually lose weight, which makes me look like a skeleton. I really don’t think about what I wear or how I look during a breakup, it’s not at all who I am. I want people to look at me as a human being, not as an outfit, no matter which emotional state I’m in. 

What do you wear when you’re off duty?

As little as possible. As soon as I get home I take off all my clothes and walk around naked, much to the dismay of my teenage daughter. She’s always asking me to put my clothes back on.