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How to Make a Moroccan Kaftan

Posted by Alecia Cohen on May 25, 2020 at 12:45 AM

 Design Your Own Moroccan Kaftan Y

Since the 16th century after the Muslims and Jews emigrated to Morocco from Andalusia, the kaftan has been mentioned in Moroccan culture and fashion. Originally, the lavishly adorned garment was used as a coat or overdress and had the practical job of ventilating the body for both men and women. Starting from the middle 20th century, however, the kaftan became an exotic and desired fashion look. Today it is worn at special events like ceremonies, birthdays, and weddings. Furthermore, many celebrities, political figures, and models worldwide have adopted the kaftan into their wardrobe. In 2019 alone, there have been several occasions where the Moroccan kaftan made a powerful fashion statement. In Spring, Christian Dior launched his 2020 Cruise Collection Fashion Show in Marrakech and featured several kaftan inspired looks. Ivanka Trump was also spotted glittering in a gold Moroccan gown when she met with Princess Lalla Meryem during her November 2019 Women’s Empowerment trip to Morocco. Kaftans were also the focus of Morocco in Abu Dhabi Fashion Festival 2019. Reflecting on the show, designer Sofia Ben Ibrahim expressed “The Kaftan has been passed down through many generations.” Over the years kaftans have been spotted on everyone from the Beatles on their tours, to many influential and powerful figures like Gisele Bundchen, Hillary Clinton, and Saudi Princess Ameera al-Taweel. Even Meryl Streep wore a silky ivory-gold caftan in her 2018 film The Post. England’s British duchess Camilla Parker Bowles also adores the kaftan. After attending the Rabat kaftan fashion show in 2011, she began to be referred to as the “the queen of caftans.” 

Hillary-Clinton-in-Moroccan-Kaftan-Morocco-Travel-Blog

There are several different styles of kaftans. They range from the most basic cotton pieces for lounging or visits with friends to extravagant gowns with unique embroidery. Furthermore, different regions and districts of Morocco have their own kaftan styles. In Rabat, a key feature of kaftans is their colorful threads, floral designs, leaves, and elaborate stitching. Kaftans in Meknes and Fes are patterned with geometric shapes like squares, triangles, and straight lines. These different modes are the result of Morocco’s melting pot history. The kingdom is indigenously Berber but has been invaded and resided in by the Phoenicians, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and even the Ottomans who captured Fes in 1554. Before the Kaftan ever came to Andalusia it was worn by the Ottoman sultans. The dominating Ottomans' presence was felt worldwide for centuries. As a result, kaftans have been a long source of inspiration for designers everywhere. Notably, Lebanese Haute Couture designer Elie Saab and the iconic Yves Saint Laurent have created many collections inspired by the Middle Eastern-North African look. Marrakech’s Yves Saint Laurent Museum even has a dedicated collection of Laurent's kaftan dresses. Travelers to Morocco are often impressed with the beautiful robes they see in the YSL museum and in the souks, and they wish to take a dress home with them. Luckily, due to the popular evolution of the Kaftan it is a fun piece to shop. You can buy them in Marrakech concept stores like 33 Rue Majorelle, Max & Jan, Kaftan Queen, or at Norya Ayron. If you have time, it is also possible to go fabric shopping and commission a local Moroccan tailor to hand-make your kaftan. 

Moroccan-Kaftan-Hand-made-Sfifa-Morocco-Travel-Blog

Our FAQ Kaftan Guide Make Your Own Kaftan (Caftan)

In determining what kind of kaftan is right for you, it is important to consider where you will wear your kaftan. Some kaftan materials are made from easy and light fabrics. These include cotton or chiffon silk and best for casual situations like relaxing at your home or meeting a friend in the medina. Morocco has a hot desert climate so women enjoy dressing in casual kaftans to feel at ease and cool down their bodies. For evening events and parties, a silky and more textured kaftan fabric is recommended. How To Make a Kaftan:

1. How many yards to make a kaftan? Naturally, this will be determined by your body type and height, however, the recommended quantity of fabric is 3 yards. In making your purchasing decision, you must determine your desired length, width (cinched waist or belted), and what kind of neckline is most flattering for your body type.

2. Where to purchase fabric for a kaftan? All four of Morocco’s imperial cities Marrakech, Rabat, Casablanca, and Tangier have medinas with shopping districts with kaftan shops that sell kaftan fabrics. It is fun to explore the fabric souk, touch the materials, and discover which ones you like best. Shopping in person also ensures that you can choose the color, style, and print pattern. The most common fabrics for a kaftan are cotton, chiffon, silk, and satin.

3. How long does it take for a kaftan to be made? Kaftans with embroidery can require a lot of work and therefore patience is needed. These detailed looks can take up to a few weeks to be made. You must also be properly fitted. Some tailors will offer international shipping upon completion.

4. Where can I get inspiration for my Kaftan look? As kaftans have become haute couture items, there are many fashion designers whose creativity will be a great source of inspiration. Among them are Dahab ben Aboud and Mohamed Lakhdar, both of who have taken the traditional kaftan and turned it into a more accessible and contemporary look. Their kaftans can be seen regularly in runway shows in both Morocco and Europe. Similarly, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Oprah, Beyonce, and Uma Thurman have appeared in red carpet events wearing a kaftan style g

Moroccan-Sfifa-Morocco-Travel-Blog

5. Where can I find Sfifa (embroidery) inspiration for my kaftan?Sfifa is a traditional Moroccan craft that can be seen on certain textiles and fabrics. Unfortunately, it is dying out in Morocco. but certain designers are working to keep it alive. Morocco’s Fadila el Gadi opened up the Ecole Broderie in Sale-Rabat to teach underprivileged children the lost art of stitchery. Recently Ivanka Trump asked El Gadi to design her an embroidered jacket for her November 2019 visit to Morocco.

6. What is the best way to accessorize a kaftan look? Moroccan women pair their kaftans with gold or silver heels, sparkly earrings, and a glamorous makeup look.

7. Can I rent a kaftan? If you are in Morocco and want to experience wearing a kaftan without purchasing one, there are kaftan rental shops that offer a wide selection of choices. Depending on the look and detailing of the kaftan, they cost between $5-40 USD to rent for one or two days.

Is a Kaftan the same as a djellaba? Sometimes people confuse these two words because both garments are long and can be used as a cover-up. However, they are worn in different contexts and have different histories and styles. Furthermore, a djellaba has a hood whereas a kaftan does not. Djellabas are traditionally worn by Berber or Amazigh men living in the Atlas Mountains and they are made from wool. Today it is possible to see lightweight cotton djellabas in different colors worn by Moroccan men and women in the medina.

Hillary-Clinton-in-Moroccan-Kaftan-Morocco-Travel-Blog

There are several different styles of kaftans. They range from the most basic cotton pieces for lounging or visits with friends to extravagant gowns with unique embroidery. Furthermore, different regions and districts of Morocco have their own kaftan styles. In Rabat, a key feature of kaftans is their colorful threads, floral designs, leaves, and elaborate stitching. Kaftans in Meknes and Fes are patterned with geometric shapes like squares, triangles, and straight lines. These different modes are the result of Morocco’s melting pot history. The kingdom is indigenously Berber but has been invaded and resided in by the Phoenicians, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and even the Ottomans who captured Fes in 1554. Before the Kaftan ever came to Andalusia it was worn by the Ottoman sultans. The dominating Ottomans' presence was felt worldwide for centuries. As a result, kaftans have been a long source of inspiration for designers everywhere. Notably, Lebanese Haute Couture designer Elie Saab and the iconic Yves Saint Laurent have created many collections inspired by the Middle Eastern-North African look. Marrakech’s Yves Saint Laurent Museum even has a dedicated collection of Laurent's kaftan dresses. Travelers to Morocco are often impressed with the beautiful robes they see in the YSL museum and in the souks, and they wish to take a dress home with them. Luckily, due to the popular evolution of the Kaftan it is a fun piece to shop. You can buy them in Marrakech concept stores like 33 Rue Majorelle, Max & Jan, Kaftan Queen, or at Norya Ayron. If you have time, it is also possible to go fabric shopping and commission a local Moroccan tailor to hand-make your kaftan.

Moroccan-Kaftan-Hand-made-Sfifa-Morocco-Travel-Blog

Our FAQ Kaftan Guide Make Your Own Kaftan (Caftan) In determining what kind of kaftan is right for you, it is important to consider where you will wear your kaftan. Some kaftan materials are made from easy and light fabrics. These include cotton or chiffon silk and best for casual situations like relaxing at your home or meeting a friend in the medina. Morocco has a hot desert climate so women enjoy dressing in casual kaftans to feel at ease and cool down their bodies. For evening events and parties, a silky and more textured kaftan fabric is recommended.

How To Make a Kaftan:

1. How many yards to make a kaftan? Naturally, this will be determined by your body type and height, however, the recommended quantity of fabric is 3 yards. In making your purchasing decision, you must determine your desired length, width (cinched waist or belted), and what kind of neckline is most flattering for your body type.

2. Where to purchase fabric for a kaftan? All four of Morocco’s imperial cities Marrakech, Rabat, Casablanca, and Tangier have medinas with shopping districts with kaftan shops that sell kaftan fabrics. It is fun to explore the fabric souk, touch the materials, and discover which ones you like best. Shopping in person also ensures that you can choose the color, style, and print pattern. The most common fabrics for a kaftan are cotton, chiffon, silk, and satin.

3. How long does it take for a kaftan to be made? Kaftans with embroidery can require a lot of work and therefore patience is needed. These detailed looks can take up to a few weeks to be made. You must also be properly fitted. Some tailors will offer international shipping upon completion.

4. Where can I get inspiration for my Kaftan look? As kaftans have become haute couture items, there are many fashion designers whose creativity will be a great source of inspiration. Among them are Dahab ben Aboud and Mohamed Lakhdar, both of who have taken the traditional kaftan and turned it into a more accessible and contemporary look. Their kaftans can be seen regularly in runway shows in both Morocco and Europe. Similarly, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Oprah, Beyonce, and Uma Thurman have appeared in red carpet events wearing a kaftan style gown

Moroccan-Sfifa-Morocco-Travel-Blog

5. Where can I find Sfifa (embroidery) inspiration for my kaftan? Sfifa is a traditional Moroccan craft that can be seen on certain textiles and fabrics. Unfortunately, it is dying out in Morocco. but certain designers are working to keep it alive. Morocco’s Fadila el Gadi opened up the Ecole Broderie in Sale-Rabat to teach underprivileged children the lost art of stitchery. Recently Ivanka Trump asked El Gadi to design her an embroidered jacket for her November 2019 visit to Morocco.

6. What is the best way to accessorize a kaftan look? Moroccan women pair their kaftans with gold or silver heels, sparkly earrings, and a glamorous makeup look.

7. Can I rent a kaftan? If you are in Morocco and want to experience wearing a kaftan without purchasing one, there are kaftan rental shops that offer a wide selection of choices. Depending on the look and detailing of the kaftan, they cost between $5-40 USD to rent for one or two days.

Is a Kaftan the same as a djellaba? Sometimes people confuse these two words because both garments are long and can be used as a cover-up. However, they are worn in different contexts and have different histories and styles. Furthermore, a djellaba has a hood whereas a kaftan does not. Djellabas are traditionally worn by Berber or Amazigh men living in the Atlas Mountains and they are made from wool. Today it is possible to see lightweight cotton djellabas in different colors worn by Moroccan men and women in the medina.

Categories: Marrakesh, Morocco History

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Reply TatyanaVlasova
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