ISTANBUL, By Janet Ellen – He’s a fashion designer and a healer from two worlds: East and West. He’s a man whose eyes reveal everything he represents. And he’s a man who has seen the world in all its rough edges and redefined what it means to create a ‘second act.’
Meet Ali Baha Kutan, a former clothing designer for major celebrity fashion brands Sean John and Donna Karan, who worked in New York City for 25 years designing for a host of other major labels as well.
For his ‘second act,’ Ali Baha made the decision to return to his roots in Turkey, to bring the knowledge he learned from his design career and his studies with shamans and healers, to creating a different type of design: “Designing a Conscious Life”- a philosophy he lives by and teaches to his clients in Istanbul, where he has been working for the last four years.
What makes this clothing designer turned healer, truly eclectic, is his belief in self-breakthroughs and his authenticity. His voice exudes a distinct feeling of comfort and safety and he exudes a sense of sincere positivity and enthusiasm that is hard to find in most healers today.
Kutan said he doesn’t subscribe to the ‘guru mentality’ because his aim is to teach clients their own individual tools to design their best life and to solve life’s most challenging dilemmas.
Ali Baha said the one thing that stood out so clearly to him when he was working with famous fashion brands was the fact that over and over again, there was a clear demand for quick solutions to the most complicated problems.
This intrigued him to the point that he decided to embark on his own very personal spiritual journey to figure out not only how he could become a better version of himself but how he could help others overcome what often seemed like their own insurmountable obstacles at work and in life.
This led Ali Baha to explore working with certain shamans who he said taught him how to navigate his own life questions and along the way, helped him gather the tools he needed to begin assisting others. Through his own self-discovery, this designer turned healer, created a path which he defines as a light-centered type of cleansing and consciousness.
He emphasizes that life is a duality between two colors: black and white. Kutan added that color is part of the shaman or healer’s equation. Color is crucial in the work because as Ali Baha says, “The subconscious mind recalls color.” It’s an emotional touchstone.
What exactly does a designer turned healer, do?
As Ali Baha describes it, “My job is to cleanse the soul, give you the tools so you don’t need me because later, you apply your own tools.” He added, “I get solutions, reminding people why they are here then people get reminded of their purpose. We don’t need a guru or mentor, we come back to ourselves.”
What Ali Baha said really transformed his own experience on his path, was being introduced to Kundalini yoga, 16 years ago. He pointed out, that for him, Kundalini was a “mind blowing experience” since it’s known for immediately bringing energy up to a much higher level than most people are used to.
According to Ali Baha, Kundalini is a key component of the work and he doesn’t explain his process because clearly ‘the process’ is something one has to experience.
What pitfalls, might there be with this type of work, I wondered and he replied: “The danger is getting lost in the story.” He explained that each one of us tells ‘our story’ and the issue becomes that we think it defines who we are, when actually, it limits us.
Ali Baha Kutan related that he doesn’t want to be anyone’s guru and he doesn’t see the need to follow one, either. As he emphasized, “People are their own gurus.”
His work in designing led him to create the brand Seveneves and Baha K with the aim of showing people, as he expressed it, “how loveable fashion can be,” because there were times when he observed fashion taking over a space.
“Fashion can be a tool that separates people,” Ali Baha explained. Most crucial is how fashion is used to create statements or images such as to display status, to make personal statements, to capture attention and to please others. But as he pointed out, this use of fashion can end up being a substitute for being one’s own authentic self.
When you ask Ali Baha what led him to want to help people solve their most unthinkable dilemmas – he just said he saw “the need.” It was this consistent ‘need’ that led this fashion designer to explore a different path to discover diverse and eclectic modes of healing that he learned required a set of varied tools that everyone could apply.
This in turn, led him on his own long-term path of self-exploration which turned out to bring him back to Istanbul to use those tools to help others apply them to their own individual and unique lives. As Ali Baha explained to me, “The tools I give you, won’t be the same tools I give someone else.” He says that’s because each person is unique in what they may need with their particular situation. After hearing a client share their story, he is then able to create a blueprint of sorts or a spiritual map within about two hours, he said that can enhance a client’s ability to develop a deeper understanding on their own path.
And you might be wondering what a clothing designer has in common with the healing profession. As Ali Baha explains, “Fashion is our mirror image that makes us stronger.” He asks the question: “Does the fashion wear us or do we wear the fashion?” In other words, our sense of fashion should enhance us and shine through us because if fashion overwhelms who we are then “we become the fashion victim,” he said. And this designer’s mission is to take the victim out and bring the authentic soul back in.