Always Classic, Always New… The Kaftan

EXCLUSIVE FOR THE RANDOLPH STREET MARKET BY NENA IVON, nenasnotes

I have been wanting to do a RSM blog post on kaftans/caftans since I started these posts several years ago and what better time than the upcoming Holidays when we look forward to entertaining and being entertained! I know all of us want to get dressed up again and here is the perfect answer.

We can trace the kaftan or caftan back to ancient times and has been worn by both men and women through the years, Yves Saint Laurent was a huge fan and worn his garments while in his beloved Morocco, as well as being influenced by the ease and beauty of the clothing.

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Traditional Moroccan Dress

From Collectors Weekly: www.collectorsweekly.com
“The structure of a caftan is really just loose fabric, attached to the shoulders with holes for the arms and the head,” says stylist and fashion historian Anna Yanofsky, who has written about caftans for Nomad-Chic. “It’s the kind of garment that has been worn throughout history by lots of different cultures. The idea of taking loose fabric and covering the body is prevalent throughout the world. But the ones that we know now as fashionable caftans have their most immediate root in the 1960s, when designers were starting to look toward more exotic locations like Morocco and Turkey, places where these traditional loose, flowing garments were worn for centuries because of the warm climates. It’s such a breathable, comfortable garment in the heat.”

From The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has many kaftans in its collection:
“The type of garment referred to as kaftan (also caftan) was known in Persia and the Ottoman Empire before arriving in Morocco, probably in the 16th century. Kaftans made of elegant materials such as silk brocade or velvet were reserved for special occasions.”

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Collections

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

From the Met Costume Institute, a panel from a mid 16th century Istanbul Kaftan.

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Another piece from the Met Collection.

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Modern caftans in Morocco.

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

A chic look for the gentlemen…..love the look!!!!

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

The Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation donated 32 collectible Caftans to the National Museum Foundation of Morocco. Presented in 2008, the exhibition consisted of 36 caftans, which reveal the importance and richness of the Moroccan heritage that had much influence on the work of Yves Saint Laurent. They were collected by Yves Saint Laurent and represent vintage pieces from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

YSL even created a fragrance to be worn with this caftans

From Yves Saint Laurent… “Marrakech introduced me to color . . . although I was used to the light and the colors of North Africa, it was only later, when I discovered Morocco, that I understood my colors were those of zellige mosaics, zouacs, djellabas and caftans. For whatever daring things I have done since then, I am indebted to the country, to the violence of its harmonies, the insolence of its mixtures, the intensity of its inventions.”

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Op print caftans

The trend became prominent during the 1960’s and 1970’s…the British designer, Thea Porter led the way bringing her Boho Chic into classic fashion!

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

The 5 photos above all Thea Porter 1960’s-1970’s

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

A Porter sketch

And the designer herself

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Of course a couple of books….

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Rudi Gernreich unisex caftans 1970’s way ahead of his time

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Valentino 1970’s

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Halston 1970’s

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Bob Mackie early Cher

Let’s look at some of the stars and society women who have embraced this style.

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

The iconic Diana Vreeland who championed the caftan

From Diana Vreeland…”To me, caftans are one of the most versatile pieces of clothing, meaning you can wear it from the beach to a barbeque to a cocktail party to a black tie event. Caftans are timeless and I never leave home without a few when I’m traveling because you never know where you’re going to end up and need a caftan!”

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Elizabeth Taylor embraced the look in many ways…it became her signature and perfect foils for her exquisite jewels.

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Barbra Streisand below in Thea Porter

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Should say Talitha and Paul Getty in Morocco

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Princess Grace wearing Madame Gres

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Lee Radziwell

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Diane Von Furstenberg

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Pat Buckley

And the signature look of André Leon Talley…

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

From Designer Collections…

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Christian Dior

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Emilio Pucci 1960’s

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Oscar de la Renta 2020 Collection

The two below from a Naeem Khan New York Fashion Week 2013 Collection

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

I recently had the privilege of meeting a new friend, Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, aka The Vintage Contessa through social media and we found we shared many interests. I did a profile on my nenasnotes blog several months ago…check it out…why you might ask am I mentioning her in this post, simple, the majority of her wardrobe consists of caftans and I couldn’t possibly leave her out…she wears them day and night, gardening, cooking, shopping…etc. etc! Here she is her closet…

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

And in her living room…

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

And in her garden

Always Classic, Always New... The Kaftan

These three photos are courtesy of Elizabeth all others found on Pinterest, no photo credits available.

There are, of course, many present designers in Morocco who are featuring the caftan in their collections as well as vintage textiles and caftans in the souks of Marrakech and other areas in the Middle Eastern countries.

Right here in Chicago, of course, you know there are many dealers at RSM who have fabulous vintage clothing and I’m sure you can find a fabulous caftan to wear year round…or perhaps an antique textile or textile fragment. As I always I tell you take the time to engage the vendors in conversation they want to share their knowledge with you. The hunt of that treasured find is the most fun of all in going to our beloved Randolph Street Market!

—–
by Nena Ivon
www.nenasnotes.com
www.facebook.com/Nena Ivon
www.instagram.com/nenasnotes

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