Blend of authenticity, modernity at Caftan Fashion Night

Caftan Fashion Night showcased ten young Moroccan designers and their elab­orate collections of haute couture.

Models present creations by Iraqi-Moroccan designer Sarhan Saleh.

2017/02/26 Issue: 95 Page: 22

The Arab Weekly
Saad Guerraoui

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.

Saad Guerraoui is a regular contributor to The Arab Weekly on Maghreb issues.

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