Morocco’s 2012 Caftan Show

– By Rebecca Prusinowski –

We love a caftan. So when AHAlife, online purveyor of beautiful lifestyle products, ventured to Morocco for the country’s 2012 Caftan Show, we required a first-hand report.  Don your most decadent garb and hop on a magic carpet, because we’re off to Marrakech!  Details on the show’s inspiration, the sumptuous collections and the drama of it all, below…

The Caftan Show is the premiere fashion event in Morocco, a country renowned for glamorous cultural fusion.  The presentations are nothing like what we see in New York, Paris or Milan, though.  Here’s what makes Morocco’s  Caftan Show a specifically memorable event on the international fashion calendar:

Theme: The Caftan Show has a designated theme and this year’s extravaganza paid tribute to Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan explorer, considered the greatest traveler of the Old World (he logged more miles than Marco Polo).  Twelve international designers were invited to create a collection incorporating the concept of travel, adventure and discovery.  Each designer imbued the traditional caftan with spectacular colors and embellishment according to their chosen geography.  Even the set designs and dance routines celebrated their respective destinations.

The Russian Inspired Collecion

Entertainment: That’s right, we said set designs and dance routines.  Preceding each collection was an over-the-top dance number, choreographed by Jais Zinoun and replete with elaborate costumes and a gigantic movie screen background.  Belly dancers preceded the Arabian themed collection while mummies somersaulted through the air to introduce Egypt.  Moroccan pop star Abdelfattah Grini opened the show.  Can you imagine if New York Fashion Week turned it out like this before every collection?

Craftsmanship: In terms of handiwork, the only comparison to Morocco’s Caftan Show is Paris’ Haute Couture.  The detailing on each caftan is dizzying: sequins of many shapes and sizes, peacock feathers, voluminous ruffles, oversize tassels, webbed lace, miles of embroidery and exuberant textile hues a bucket of Crayola crayons couldn’t touch.  Traditional artisans spend hundreds of hours on each caftan.  Like Haute Couture, royals from the Middle East–and jet setters alike–will meet with designers afterward to have the caftan of their liking customized and made to measure.

AHAlife's Rebecca Prusinowski takes in the afterparty in Marrakech


Long and Late: Things in Morocco aren’t terribly organized, and that definitely goes for the Caftan Show.  But that’s part of this country’s appeal: It’s sensual, beautiful, and known for long nights.  The show started a couple hours late and was hotter than a hammam.  Well-heeled attendants hydrated with champagne and retreated to the atrium’s grand staircases to sit and fan themselves while waiting for the show doors to open.  Quite a juxtaposition against the opulent pieces that graced the catwalk later on!  We can only liken the experience to a Marc Jacobs show at the Armory (before he became punctual, circa 2007).  The afterparty was scheduled to begin at 11pm but didn’t get swinging until well after midnight.  But it was no matter.  Held at the just-opened Park Hyatt Golf Resort outside the city center, the entire property was awash in candlelight and boasted a fabulous band, more food than you can imagine, and glittering pools of water dotted with floating VIP islands.  Hundreds of party-goers danced until dawn–which is to say, in typical Moroccan fashion.

Feeling inspired by Morocco’s exotic wares but can’t swing the Caftan Show’s $80,000 designer price tags? Shop’s favorite caftans.

Rebecca Prusinowski is Editor-at-Large and Community Manager of AHAlife, the online shopping destination for gifts and unique global finds. She works in media and fashion with a simple mission to share what’s beautiful in this world.

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