Rifat Ozbek and his Yastik cushions were the stars of last month’s ‘Maison et Objet’ salon. Still, I’ve noticed that mentioning Rifat leads to excitement and a touch of possessiveness. “I am madly in love with him,” declares John Richardson, Picasso’s biographer. He’s speaking for the Inner Chic masses. The Turkish-born Rifat proves that it is possible to be wildly creative and wildly cosy too.
I experienced this when arriving in Hydra for Tino Zervudachi’s 50th birthday fest. Horrors of horrors, I knew no one apart from Rifat. But this was enough, I quickly discovered. He collected me from my hotel – RO’s immediate warmth and ‘divine, darling’ manners should be parcelled up and auctioned off for trillions – and suddenly it was swimming and gigging followed by potent cocktails on Peter Simons’s boat while high profile damsels-in-distress (I ‘nosy-parker’ spied!) were calling his cell.
"Rifat’s considerable charms are captured in his cushions"
Fortunately, Rifat’s considerable charms are captured in his cushions. Odd to write that but it’s the truth. Called Yastik (Turkish for Pillow), they define dreamy. Imagine mismatched textiles such as Ikat fabrics, soft velvets, Suzanis from Ouzbekistan and handmade Buldan cottons that manage to be elegantly bohemian in appearance, superbly crafted as well as having a hint of French lavender inside.
Cindy Sherman has Yastik pillows in her Paris apartment as do other icons. This is of no surprise because Rifat is on their level. A former fashion star who dressed tout le monde, he remains light-hearted yet can pinpoint the needed detail. Rifat is also passionate about pillows, describing them as “the final, pretty touch of decoration” as well as being the ultimate in comfort since they prop him up “when reading in bed” and support him “when lying on a sofa chatting with friends". Rifat rules ok!
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.
Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. A former classical dancer, his book for children titled "A Bunny in the Ballet" will be available early in 2014 from Scholastic, Inc.