GEN by Figen Özdenak

Family ties bring one of Turkey’s leading fashion designers to Excelsior

Figen Özdenak’s story sounds like that of a movie heroine. At age 30, the newly divorced Turkish housewife decided to become a fashion designer. Her signature clean, modern lines catapulted her to the top of the Turkish fashion world. She dressed the first female Prime Minister of Turkey. Her designs were showcased in Turkish Vogue and Elle. She opened two stores in Istanbul and sold her collection at Harvey Nichols department stores in London (Harrods’ hipper, younger rival).

Now, 25 years after she started, Özdenak brings her designs to a new, unexpected market: Excelsior.

Why, of all places, the quaint Minneapolis suburb? Özdenak’s brother, Tuncay, lives in nearby Chanhassen. He runs the shop, whose stark white walls and black accents have a hip, SoHo vibe. Dresses, skirts, and coats are all cut in loose lines that flow across the body and transcend trends. Each piece is hand sewn in Figen’s Istanbul studio. They are investment pieces (prices can hit four figures). For spring, pastels in linen and silk will replace the black that has dominated since the store’s November launch. Expect another tweak next fall from Figen, who now understands that winter here doesn’t hover around 40 degrees, as in Istanbul. Says Tuncay with a laugh: “We’ll have heavier fabrics.” • 206 Water St., Excelsior, 952-479-1711,