Nov 30, 2008
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Moroccans give fresh twist to kaftan

Nov 30, 2008

A creation by "Mademoiselle Lucien" during the "Mode in Morocco" fashion show in Casablanca
Photo : Abdelhak Senna/AFP
CASABLANCA, Morocco, Nov 30, 2008 (AFP) - For centuries it has been the sartorial standard for women's wear in Morocco. Now a group of Moroccan fashion designers say it's time to give the kaftan a modern twist.

The third annual edition of Mode Made in Morocco, organised by Maroc Premium magazine and held over the weekend in Casablanca, featured eight designers keen to show that fashion and tradition can thrive together.

"Moroccan designers are getting more and more orders from abroad," said Michele Desmottes, the fashion show's director. "There's exceptional creativity in Morocco."

Her view is shared by the Parisian couturier Dominique Sirop, the show's guest of honour.

"For three years, we've been seeing a real emergence of Moroccan designers, worthy of what is happening in other countries," he said. "They prove that Morocco is not just the sun, tajine and the kaftan."

Most of the outfits seen Saturday testified to much research and imagination.

If the fabrics looked traditional with their embroidery and shimmering colours, the tailoring was much more contemporary, with bustiers and short skirts contrasting with the common flowing kaftan.

Designers such as Jamal Daoudi and Nabil Dahani still draw inspiration from Morocco, but as they work in Paris, their creations seem more audacious, more modern, lighter, and indeed more European.

Hassan Tanner took home the Jean-Louis Scherrer prize for his dresses that were light and closely cut to the body -- perhaps the most radical designs to be seen at the weekend's show.

Creations by Marrakesh-based Frederique Birkemeyer were equally feminine, rich in embroidery and inlay.

One wonders what Yves Saint Laurent would have thought. The legendary French designer, who died in Paris in June aged 71, kept a second home in Marrakech, and many of his best creations took inspiration from the kaftan.

Menswear got a look-in at this year's Mode Made in Morocco as well, with Tangiers native Salima Salima Abdel-Wahab sending out two highly original outfits light years from that classic desert robe, the djellaba.

Organisers nevertheless unanimously regretted a lack of support for the show this year from both the government and the garment industry.

"It is time to wake up and to encourage individual talent," Desmottes said, as Sirop underlined the role that fashion can play "in the economic development of the country."by Herve Guilbaud

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