How the Kaftan Went Global

How the Kaftan Went Global

Several factors allowed the Moroccan Kaftan (also Caftan) to cross borders and influence fashion internationally. It really started in the 1950s, with the introduction of European haute couture in Morocco and the improvement of Moroccan women’s conditions. Many Moroccan women designers felt empowered to celebrate the Kaftan heritage and brought a few simple changes to make it more convenient for every woman. They reduced the number of layers and the usual width of the traditional kaftan and used flowy and airy fabrics for better wearability.

Among the pioneer designers of the time, we can mention Zina Guessous (1925-1998), Naima Bennis (1940-2008), Tamy Tazi (1930-), and Zhor Sebti (born in 1928).

Their creations were sought after and attracted international personalities such as Yves Saint Laurent, Tabitha Getty, Annita Pallenberg, Catherine Deneuve, Queen Beatrix of Holland, and Oum Kalthoum. American Vogue editor-in-chief, Diana Vreeland, devoted many articles to the Moroccan Kaftan and Moroccan fashion. Esquires magazine also celebrated the comfort of the Caftan in an article published in June 1972.

Moroccan Kaftan vogue
The beautiful people in caftans. Vogue, July 1966, 148, 66-73.
| © Photograph of article taken by Katherine Elliott.

caftan vogue americana oscar de la renta
Vintage Vogue Americana, 1971; Oscar de La Renta | © Photograph by Moroccanzest
red caftan vogue patterns
1970s Vintage VOGUE Sewing Pattern | © Photograph by Moroccanzest
talitha getty kaftan marrakech
Talitha Getty in a Kaftan dress, 1970, Marrakech | Getty Images © Photograph by Patrick Lichfield
Jim Morrison / Getty Images
Esquire Caftan 1972
The comfort of the caftan, Esquire, June 1972
men caftan vogue patterns
Vintage Men Caftan in Vogue Patterns | © Photograph by Moroccanzest

Vintage Caftan Vogue
Vintage VOGUE Patterns | © Photograph by Moroccanzest
Catherine Deneuve | Getty Images
vintage caftan vogue pattern
Vintage VOGUE Pattern | © Photograph by Moroccanzest

Safaa, founder of moroccanzest

From design and decor to food and travel, moroccanzest is the space where I share what I loved growing up in Morocco, and more. It’s your destination for everything beautiful, artistic, and made the Moroccan way with love. Learn more about me here.