Blend of authenticity, modernity at Caftan Fashion Night
Casablanca - Sumptuous fabrics, embroidery, golden threads and colourful outfits stood out at the Caftan Fashion Night, which featured designs of traditional Moroccan fashion for women and men.
The event, organised by Osra magazine, showcased ten young Moroccan designers and their elaborate collections of haute couture in a country known for its lavish traditional caftans and djellabas.
The designers’ collections effectively blended authenticity with modernity.
Iraqi-Moroccan designer Sarhan Saleh, making her fashion shop debut, dazzled the crowd with a glittery collection.
“My aim is to highlight female beauty because women are the most beautiful creatures in this universe,” Saleh said.
Saleh used velour in various warm colours in her six dresses adorned with golden embroidery, keeping with the authentic traditions of the Moroccan caftan but adding a modern touch to the designs.
“I can’t do without gold thread in my clothing line,” she said. “I preserved some basic customs of the Moroccan caftan such as embroidery but I altered their design by shrinking the sleeves, waist and bust and upping the shoulders to give a tailored dress that emphasises women’s lines.”
It took Saleh a year to design her haute couture collection in her atelier in Taza, where she was born.
The prices of Saleh’s dresses range between $890 and $3,000 depending on the quality of the fabric and intricacy of hand-sewn embroidery.
Saleh designs traditional dresses both manually and mechanically to meet the demands of her customers in Taza where the buying power is far lower than in larger cities. She said her aim is to target the rich Gulf Arab market.
“I worked with customers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE through Instagram. The Gulf Arab market is very profitable because customers like extravaganza,” she said.
Designer Sofia Lahrichi from Casablanca displayed a more Westernised style of haute couture to fulfil her customers’ demands.
“My customers prefer robes more than caftans. My creations tonight cover both styles with a modernised touch,” said Lahrichi, who said she planned to take part in fashion shows in Germany and Belgium.
Young women are her target for modern gowns with a traditional touch while she designs more traditional caftans for older women. Most of her dresses, which are predominantly black, were tailored for festive occasions with price tags between $800 and $2,000.
Abdelouahab Benhaddou was the only designer to showcase traditional male dresses because, he said, there was a shortage in that segment.
“My style is a bit funky but practical because I try to come out of the heavy traditional outfits to which we have been conditioned during our youth,” Benhaddou said.
“Today I’m bringing another vision of the Moroccan haute couture: Contemporary, colourful and easy-to-wear outfits for young guys in order to conciliate Moroccan men with their traditions.”
The most striking moment was when a male model with Down syndrome walked like a star on the podium in jeans and a funky sleeveless djellaba.
“People with Down syndrome are part of our life,” Benhaddou said. “The era of the beautiful silhouette is gone. I’m a designer of all the people. I can cater for customers with special needs, too. There is absolutely no reason to present only beautiful models.”
Benhaddou has been preparing to take part as a guest of honour at Black Fashion Week in Portugal.