Fashion Insight – The Colourful History of the Kaftan 

The world of fashion moves in cycles and diverse cultures create clothing that deserves to be exported and enjoyed by all. In this short article, we delve into the history of the kaftan, which has its roots in the old Persian Empire.  

Kaftan or Caftan? 

The names are interchangeable and in the Middle East, both are used. Turkish Mesopotamia was the location where the kaftan was born, a few thousand years ago and the garment covered the body, ideal for the hot climate. We know that upper-class women in the Ottoman period wore kaftans in court, with stunning embellishments and fine embroidery; the garment soon became a status symbol that demonstrates the wealth of the wearer. 

19th century Morocco 

The Moroccan justice system adopted the kaftan for judges to wear, which added power to the wealthy prestige and numerous designs were created, with various regions having their own colours and designs. 

Queen Victoria’s granddaughter married Czar Nicholas II and a photograph of her wearing a traditional kaftan was the catalyst for spreading this fashion to the rest of the world. The sheer opulence of such attire completely captivated Victorian society and the kaftan soon was worn all over Europe. 

Post WW II 

The kaftan kind of disappeared for the war years, from 1914-1944, as austerity was the order of the day; they were certainly worn in bomb shelters by those who were hoping their homes are spared. The 1950s saw a revival when Balenciaga created a stunning oversized dress that fell into the kaftan category. If you are looking for a leading Australian kaftan designer, Google can take you to a family-owned business that makes the finest garments from a diverse range of fabrics. 

Yves Saint Laurent 

In the 1960s, Yves Saint Laurent had a bit of an obsession about Marrakesh and this led to Vogue displaying the best kaftans made by top designers. Designers love the fact that a caftan offers so much area, which allows for intricate art and patterns. Top fashion houses created splendid examples that were seen on all the top catwalks. 

Rock & Roll 

The Rolling Stones loved to lounge in kaftans, and this gave the garment a turbocharge right back into the fashion limelight. The 1970s was very much a time for flower power and a Middle East design fitted nicely. The Beatles also wore these on occasions, but never while performing. 

Fast forward to today and we see the kaftan once again at the forefront of 2024 spring and summer collections and with a leading Australian designer of the best kaftans, MoyoMoyo Pty Ltd, only a few mouse-clicks away, you can browse their collection and place an order. 

Rich colours are all the rage this year and a range of styles that include maxi dresses; idea for a full woman who likes freedom of movement. Spend some time looking at the amazing designs that are right for 8-20 sizes. Who wants to be constricted with tight clothing; sure, there are times when that is required but it is so nice to wear something comfortable.