By Fatima Boutaouja
By Fatima Boutaouja
Rabat – “Crafts make us feel rooted; give us a sense of belonging and connect us with our history.” This quote captures the baseline of Khadija Mouh’s journey of success, after emigrating to the United States in the mid 80s. She is skilled in crafts acquired from one of Morocco’s women’s clubs: designing and making traditional Moroccan garments. Making caftans, for Khadija, is a way to keep the special bond she has with her native country and show off the allure of her mother culture.
“Fashion is a big symbol. It’s everywhere, and it’s a way of spreading awareness about Morocco’s beauty, and letting people know about Moroccan artisan skills,” Mouh told MWN. When talking to people, she recounts stories or describes the food, or the caftan with excitement that clearly shows how much she truly loves her culture. “Every stitch is artistic, creative and uniquely Moroccan. I love fashion and I brought that love with me. It wasn’t something that I developed while in the states.” she said.
Sky Is the Limit for Khadija Mouh
Over the years, college professors in New York, Virginia, D.C., New Jersey, and Connecticut have invited her to talk about Moroccan culture. One of the best ways to do that is to showcase the caftan, because for her “the caftan is an external representation of Morocco’s beauty, versatility, and charm.”
Surrounded by an encouraging environment, Mouh enrolled in the Katherine Gibbs School in New York and graduated in Fashion Design. She capitalized on the years she spent in Morocco as a child, and her understanding of the American life style and business marketing, to create a company called “Moroccan Caftan NY.”
Through her designs, Mouh not only exposes Americans to the Moroccan caftan, quenching their thirst for exotic things, but also helps empower women in her hometown, Sale, Morocco. Moroccan Caftan NY provides an opportunity for Moroccan women, who sew and hand-embroider these gowns, to financially support their families and improve the quality of their lives.
Khadija uses embroidery and bold colors in her designs to create a ‘fun feel’. Her products are characterized by a modern and simple touch, and are high quality at an affordable price.
She began by organizing fashion shows in New York and New Jersey. Success there was followed by shows in Boston, Philadelphia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. Over the past few years, Mouh has showcased in Africa Fashion Week New York (AFWNY) for both women and men’s wear. AFWNY gathers top designers from across Africa for exhibitions, industry networking events, and catwalk shows.
“Every one of my designs breathes history, tradition, and modernity,” she said. “My inspiration for my fashion collections comes from my childhood, from the sea and the souks and the high archways to the vibrant tiles from Fez; from the copper desert of the Tefilate region and the sweetness of the dates. I brought all that with me, just like the millions of other Moroccans living abroad.”
Khadija Mouh established her name as a fashion designer in one of the fashion capitals: New York. In addition to being a designer and bride stylist, she studied event planning and has started to organize social gatherings à la Marocaine. “It’s important that all of my designs are sewn in Morocco because people feel that connection as soon as they wear one of my dresses.”
Deriving her inspiration and ideas from her roots and her childhood in Morocco, and playing by the rules of her host country, she has become an ambassador for Moroccan culture in the United States. Khadija is also very active within the Moroccan community, organizing Moroccan cultural classes, to helping young Moroccan immigrants. All this goes along with her dream to serve and disseminate Moroccan culture.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy