By: Rachida Alaoui
The burnous, the caftan, the jellaba, the haïk and other garments are signs of how Moroccan urban clothes have spread throughout time. The blooming of dress traditions from their Andalusian heritage and the Moorish and Spanish fashions long interested the western travelers and ambassadors from the 16th to 18th centuries, and "oriental" fashions conquered the 19th century Romantics, as well as Matisse in the 20th century.
By the richness and diversity of the ornamentation specific to each region, by the brilliance of the colors and the luxury of the fabrics used, clothes for both men and women excelled in their refinement and elegance. The workshops of Fez, Tetouan, Meknès, and Rabat produced the finest caftans and the most sumptuous woven fabrics, especially those used for wedding garments for Muslims and Jews alike. But grandiose clothes are not complete unless they are accompanied by golden jewelry, in many forms: tiaras, earrings, jewels worn on the temples, buckles, rings, broaches, necklaces, bracelets, and ankle bracelets.
These luxury crafts are still alive today, through a revival of jewelry and fabrics, driven by the growth in Moroccan haute couture, which was born about twenty years ago in an attempt to preserve and revitalize this precious heritage.
Of immutable form, traditional garments have constantly evolved, with new fabrics, colors and patterns, integrating foreign influences - oriental, Andalusian, Ottoman, and finally European - but have always maintained their predominant position and social meaning, in spite of modernity and the appearance of western clothes.
This special vitality has been noticed by French fashion designers, such as Mariano Fortuny, Paul Poiret and Yves Saint Laurent, who, with bright and original designs, have used Moroccan patterns, styles and ornaments in their creations, and have been irresistibly influenced by the enchanting splendor of Moroccan garments.