Monday, 28 May 2012


One of the highlights of my recent trip to Marrakech was the Caftan festival. This annual fashion event, now in its sixteenth year, is the Moroccan haute-couture show, and showcases not only the country's exquisite craftsmanship but also its hottest designers. Attended by the great, the good and the wealthy, it's very much a selling show - and whilst there are definite trends in play, caftan is much more about the sumptuous fabrics and skilled embellishment than it is about this season's latest look.

Unlike most of the fashion shows I've seen, designers show together in a very lavish themed staging, making one concentrate much more on the individual detail than on the couturier's brand. The Moroccan caftan is traditionally in two pieces - a simpler under-dress with a more elaborate coat over the top, often belted, and I loved the way that the designers who showed at Caftan 2012 played with this trope, layering sumptuous  fabrics on top of each other  and playing with volume so that skirts billowed sensuously from a tiny cinched-in waist.

Whilst most kept the look floor length or longer, some played with a long coat worn over a cropped trouser, and others teamed a filmy coat which opened, Angelina-style to reveal a lot of leg.
Not long before I went I was at an ELLE magazine trends-presentation and learned that A/W'12 puts the emphasis firmly on the waist - with this in mind, I was particularly struck by the incredible wide bronze belts in one show which looked marvellous if not absolutely comfortable.

All in all, it was opulent and elegant in equal measure: I've never seen anything like it.

Rose-garden colours were more typical than jewel-brights at this year's show - soft shades of palest pink, ashes of roses, apricot and old-gold were quiet attention-grabbers. There was also a lot of beautiful eau de nil and aquamarine - such a visual feast and a sharp contrast from London's  default setting of fashion-black.

Voile or chiffon over-dresses  worn over a heavier silk in a contrasting shade featured strongly - this had some incredibly sumptuous metallic embroidery in the front panels of the coat.

These pictures don't do this designer's show justice - it had a faintly Venetian masked ball theme and the caftans had jaw-droppingly lavish embroidery in gold and silver metallic threads - the waistline was higher too, creating a rather quattrocento effect, with sweeping skirts in jewel-coloured satin and brocade. The white caftan you can just see to the right of this picture was breathtakingly beautiful with a kind of peacock design in embroidered paillettes. Having checked my notes, it also involved peacock feathers - but helpfully, all I've written subsequently is 'WOW'.

This was my favourite dress of the show - again, hard to do it justice in a photograph, but the lush cream satin under dress, embroidered with silver thread, just peeped out from an absolutely gorgeous coat of rose silk covered in a very pale pink gauze which was intricately embroidered with pink silk flowers and silver paillettes -  humblingly beautiful craftsmanship. 

I'd not long come back from Marrakech when I saw these pictures of Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco at the lunch for the Queen's diamond jubilee -I loved this understated silk-satin caftan in an embroidered soft-pink. It's not as 'out-there' as some of those I saw at the Caftan show, but very, very beautiful all the same. 

Princess Lalla Meryem in a dove grey and silver caftan at the sovereign's dinner to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee


Rainbow Prams said...

wow wow and wow, you did do those pictures justice! Those caftans look stunning! xx

Unknown said...

so those look NOTHING like my pregnancy kaftans...beautiful.

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jessie pearl said...

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