Izmir in Westend

They were an institution in Frankfurt’s Westend. At 92, Ayla Dölen-Tunali was the oldest and best-known master tailor in Frankfurt. Together with her husband Huseyin Coskun Dölen she ran a tailor’s shop of a kind rarely seen these days. She had been a parachutist in Turkey, and was always more than happy to talk about it. But the love of her life was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as can be clearly seen in the photos. After a write up about her in zenith Magazine, in summer of this year Ayla and I decided to offer a glimpse into her life. She was someone full of joie de vivre, and she kept on sewing the garments that people brought to her at her old sewing machine almost up until the day she died. In September, after a brief illness, my dear friend Ayla Dölen died suddenly at the age of 92. At her funeral in Frankfurt her coffin was shrouded in the German flag, something usually reserved for state functionaries. She and her husband were emblems of integrated Muslims in Germany. In a state of profound grief, Huseyin Dölen permanently left Germany a few weeks ago, returning to Turkey after more than 50 years. He told me he is now no more than half a person and wants to spend the rest of his days in Izmir.

Her old sewing machine.By Nicole Kuhn
Ayla Dölen’s master tailor shop.By Nicole Kuhn
She liked to collect little trinkets and things.By Nicole Kuhn
Huseyin Dölen in the tailor’s shop.By Nicole Kuhn
Muslims in Germany.By Nicole Kuhn
Daily life in the Dölens’ shop. They were also politically engaged. In the lower part of the image is Frankfurt’s Mayor Peter Feldmann.By Nicole Kuhn
Ayla Dölen as a parachutist – there are pictures of her all over the shop. By Nicole Kuhn
Ayla Dölen’s changing room in her tailor’s shop in Frankfurt.By Nicole Kuhn
One of Germany’s most beautiful Turkish homes. By Nicole Kuhn
A Chinese Buddha, a cuckoo clock and a picture of Kemal Atatürk at Ayla Dölen’s.By Nicole Kuhn
At home with Ayla Dölen.By Nicole Kuhn
Ayla Dölen with her husband in a black and white photo during an interview for a newspaper, many years ago.By Nicole Kuhn