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Jameel Prize for art inspired by Islam awarded to female fashion duo

By Milena Veselinovic, for CNN
updated 5:37 AM EST, Thu December 12, 2013
Moroccan multi-media artist Mounir Fatmi uses Arabic caligraphy in novel ways. In the video work <i>Modern Times: A History of the Machine</i> (detail shown here) atmi uses these circular compositions literally as wheels, the parts of a noisy locomotive that hurtles forward relentlessly. Moroccan multi-media artist Mounir Fatmi uses Arabic caligraphy in novel ways. In the video work Modern Times: A History of the Machine (detail shown here) atmi uses these circular compositions literally as wheels, the parts of a noisy locomotive that hurtles forward relentlessly.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Turkish fashion label DIce Kayek has been awarded the Jameel art prize
  • It is the first time a fashion designer has been nominated
  • The prize honors works of art inspired by Islamic tradition

(CNN) -- Islamic tradition is not often lauded for its influence on couture, but a Turkish fashion label has won a prestigious international art prize awarded to artworks inspired by Islam's heritage.

Dice Kayek, established in 1992 by sisters Ece and Ayse Ege, triumphed over 270 entries from all over the world to claim the Jameel Prize, given biannually by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The sisters, who live and work between Istanbul and Paris, were the first fashion designers ever to be nominated for the art prize, which comes with a $40,000 award. They beat nine other finalists with their collection, named Istanbul Contrast, which was inspired by the Turkish city's architectural tradition.

"Every dress is a symbol and interpretation of Istanbul's diverse architecture. It's a city of contrast, where east meets west and modernity and tradition coexist" explained Ece Ege.

Ece and Ayse Ege, the Turkish sister design duo behind Dice Kayek
Courtesy Emre Dogru

Dice Kayek's garments tell a story of Istanbul's rich history by weaving references to intricate Byzantine mosaics and opulent robes of Ottoman rulers, but their creations also have a modern, international edge. They are sold in 35 countries on five continents, and the label is a member of the prestigious Fédération Française de la Couture, alongside names like Chanel and Balenciaga.

"Every dress is a symbol and interpretation of Istanbul's diverse architecture. It's a city of contrast, where east meets west and modernity and tradition coexist
Ece Ege

The brand's winning collection was created in 2009, and has already been shown in some of the world's leading museums such as Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Amsterdam Museum and Istanbul Museum of Modern Arts.

Martin Roth, Director of the V&A and chair of the distinguished panel of judges, which included Zaha Hadid and Thomas Heatherwick, lauded the designers' ability to translate the spirit of Islamic tradition for the modern era: "We were struck by the way that Dice Kayek's work uses Islamic inspiration in a completely secular context, taking it into a new world, that of contemporary fashion."

Other shortlisted entries included jewelry, textiles, installations, and calligraphy, created by an eclectic group of artists from diverse backgrounds ranging from Saudi Arabia to France.

An exhibition of work by the winner and nine short-listed artists and designers runs at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until April 21 2014.

Read more: High art meets the high-street at neon-lit Miami Beach

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