Kaftan: the pride of Moroccan women

youssef sourgo
Youssef Sourgo is currently a Master’s student in Linguistic and Literary studies at Ain Chok Faculty of Letters and Humanities. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in American cultural studies from Ben M’sik faculty of Letters and Humanities. He is a ...
Kaftan: the pride of Moroccan women

Casablanca- “Many inspiring women have shown me how such a garment is created somewhere between fantasy and reality,” wrote Sonia Maria in an article of hers published on NJAL, an online fashion platform.

The “garment” that Maria refers to is the Moroccan majestic dress, the Kaftan. Her description flawlessly matches the proprieties of this charming Moroccan attire. Between “fantasy” and “reality,” the Kaftan stands out as a composite mix of subtle and luxurious fabrics, composite designs and shapes, and an artist’s personal perspective of women’s beauty and femininity.

1To start, the Kaftan is to be distinguished from the Djellaba. The latter is traditionally recognized for featuring a hood, whereas the former does not. The Kaftan is basically a hoodless Djellaba. For it is commonly worn during special occasions, the Kaftan tends to be more elaborate and intricate in its designs than the Djellaba. This however does not undermine the uniqueness of the Moroccan Djellaba, which has also gained a new air of modernity by contemporary fashion designers. Hence both the Kaftan and the Djellaba are now almost at the same scale of sophistication and modernity.is agreeable that both Moroccan dresses might sometimes look almost selfsame in terms of form and constituents. However, Takchita distinctively comes in a double-layered design: a dress blanketed by a Kaftan-like robe. Equally, however, both Kaftan and Takchita are worn for special occasions, though Kaftan comes comparatively more composite in its colors, designs and patterns for it is also a traditional wedding dress. Nevertheless, there exist simpler and less elaborate versions of Kaftan.

A bridal garment par excellence, the Moroccan Kaftan is traditionally recognized for being a long-sleeved, front-buttoned robe, traditionally opened at the front.  Made up either of silk or cotton, alongside many other newly introduced fabrics, the Kaftan tends to be embroidered with braids at different parts of it. It comes also with detailed and coherent patterns and lustrous colors. This enchanting dress that fascinates all women around the world, as astounding as it may sound, is traditionally hand-made. This reverberates Morocco’s highly professional and unique artisans and designers.

Looking in retrospect at Kaftan’s history, we travel back into time to the epoch of the Ottoman Empire. The Kaftan in that era was reflective of the person’s hierarchical rank and position in relation to the Sultan. The Kaftan worn by those women in the entourage of the sultan was unquestionably distinct from that worn by ordinary women. The higher the rank of the wearer was, evidently, the more elaborate and embellished was her Kaftan, and vice versa.

When the Kaftan reached Morocco, however, it has gained a different air and signification. Worn both as a casual and formal attire, depending on the complexity of its design, the Moroccan Kaftan has been more symbolic of women’s delicate taste in traditional clothes. Brides have also worn it during their weddings to accentuate their beauty and femininity.11

The Moroccan artisan and designer has been recognized by his impressive ability to match women’s descriptions and expectations with the final product. He even sometimes stupefies them by his personal perspective, stemming from his know-how and experience of what magnifies women’s beauty and femininity in Moroccan dresses.

After Kaftan had reached Morocco, it encapsulated the country’s cultural richness and complexity. Morocco repainted the originally Ottoman attire with colors from its mosaic of identities and cultural particularities. The Moroccan Kaftan speaks different languages and is representative of a plethora of Moroccan sub-identities, which in turn form its one and monolithic identity.

The love relationship between the Moroccan Kaftan and its wearer is beyond the banalities of price and occasion. The relationship starts at first sight, when the woman sees the design/tissue, and endures until her body meets the Kaftan’s fabric. At that very instant, the Kaftan remolds to match its wearer’s sense of femininity and beauty. It accentuates the woman’s outer beautiful traits and discloses her inner delicateness and fineness. Basically, it matches her personality and speaks her mind.

As when the Moroccan  Kaftan is worn by a non-Moroccan woman, it discovers her own femininity and adds a Moroccan breath to it. I would dare to say that it unveils the ‘Moroccan dimension’ of every non-Moroccan woman’s body. What else, then, could be more enchanting than rediscovering a new facet of what makes a woman distinctively beautiful?

When it comes to modernity, and just as I exemplified in a previous article (Salma Kaftan design), the traditional Moroccan Kaftan captivatingly immixes in the chemistry of the traditional and the modern. Salma has been one example of how only Moroccan designers have this idiosyncratic ability to preserve the traditional Kaftan’s majesty while injecting a breath of modernity and occidental topicalities.

The Moroccan Kaftan continues to be an important constituent of Morocco’s cultural identity. Kaftan is the pride of every Moroccan woman. It symbolizes her simplicity and her sophistication; her femininity and beauty; her cheeriness and delicacy; and her mesmerizingly colorful and open mind.

Women around the world are now considering the Moroccan dress more of a universal attire that matches all and every distinctive criteria of beauty and high quality worldwide. The Moroccan Kaftan stands up as sempiternal dress that gains more sumptuousity with time to endure and compete even in an age of revolutionary fashion and design.

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