Moroccan Haute Couture dazzles audience

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The 17th edition of Caftan, one of the most prestigious events in the traditional Moroccan Haute Couture, dazzled a select audience in Marrakech on Saturday.

Every year fifteen fashion designers are selected from 50 candidates who send in their portfolios and CVs to the organizers. The chosen ones are then given four months to prepare their collection which needs to be made up of eight caftans.

The two-hour show required months of meticulous preparations, and taking part in Caftan was a nerve-racking experience even for the most seasoned fashion designers.

Top fashion designer Meriyem Boussikouk has 20 years of experience in the industry. Yet she said she was still nervous about how the public would react to her new collection.

“We have been nervous since we started preparing for the show, and our nerve grows as the event gets nearer because we are not sure about ourselves 100 percent. There are new creations as well as new ideas we want to propose to the public, and we are not sure about the reaction (it’ll get). Will the public accept or reject what we offer?” she told Reuters from her workshop in Casablanca.

The theme chosen by this year’s event organizers, a Fashion magazine called FDM, or Femmes du Maroc, was “Women of Legend”. The designers were to be inspired by a variety of women who made history for a variety of reasons, such as Audrey Hepburn, Umm Kulthum, Cleopatra. Coco Chanel and Marilyn Monroe among others.

The show’s producer said the goal was to pay tribute to these fascinating women who seemed to have had everything: beauty, power, talent, knowledge and glory.

“We chose the theme of ‘Women of legend’ because it inspires fashion designers. These women have always been full women (the embodiment of womanhood). In the Moroccan history, we took Kahina. We also chose Umm Kulthum, Marilyn Monroe and other women. The most important thing is that women are not there just to complement men. At the same time, we revisited the history of Morocco as well as the world’s history to put women up front. What can you find more beautiful than a caftan to showcase women?”, said show producer Khalid Bazizd.

Each edition of Caftan has a guest of honor, and this year it was the turn of the French-Lebanese designer Dany Atrache.

“I came to Morocco to learn how Moroccans work on this traditional garment, because there is a lot of work involved in it and also it is made in a special way,” said Atrache.

“We cannot call it a designer piece because a designer piece is linked to fashion that changes every six months. Here, we are talking of a traditional garment that is centuries old yet, it looks as new. It is not easy to reach this level of perfection,” he added.

The audience was entertained by colourful dance sequences inspired by Coco Chanel, Marie Antoinette and Marilyn Monroe.

“I will show off all these women through choreography and acting. What strikes me most is the beauty. For me, all women are beautiful regardless of their shape. They could be tall, short or fat, they are always beautiful,” explained Moroccan choreographer Malika Zaidi, whose dance troupe dazzled the crowd.

The caftan is a garment that has been around for centuries, and shows such as Caftan allow it to be regularly reinvented and remain appreciated in today’s fashion world.

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