Models strutted down the catwalk on Saturday at "Kaftan 2012," the most prestigious traditional fashion show in Morocco.
It was the 16th edition of the annual fashion event in Marrakech, showcasing 12 established designers and two newcomers foreshadowing upcoming trends inspired by the traditional Moroccan kaftan.
"The treasures of Ibn Battuta" was the event’s theme, named after a prominent Moroccan traveler known for his adventures and voyages from Tangier. Ibn Battuta went to Haj in 1304 before setting on a world tour that took him to many countries in the Middle and Far East.
The kaftan, which is said to have originated from Iran, has become an icon of traditional Moroccan fashion and sophistication.
Myriam Jebbor, director and editor of the woman's monthly magazine "Femmes du Maroc," which supports the event, said the event attempts to surprise the Moroccan audience on an artistic level as well as meeting the event’s annual theme.
"Each edition is an individual one. Every time, we want to surprise the Moroccan public, on an artistic level. This year, we chose ‘The treasures of Ibn Battuta’ as a theme. We wanted to go back to origins and discover, through Ibn Battuta's travels, various countries and cultures," Jebbor said.
The show featured performances and artistic intervals from Ibn Battuta’s travels from Egypt, Turkey as well as Russia and a number of other countries. Some of the collections were designed by some of the most celebrated names in Moroccan Haute Couture.
Each kaftan is created delicately with hours of meticulous work by dozens of traditional artisans. Some of the collections display oriental influences.
Designer Meryem Boussikouk is a renowned name in traditional Moroccan fashion circles.
"We display the kaftans following the performances on the catwalk. Without them, we would not have this result. I take this opportunity to salute them and to tell them that they should persevere with their efforts and their art so that we could express ourselves as fashion designers with their help. Without them, we cannot do this," Boussikouk said.
Wafae Faraj, the event’s backstage manager, works with more than 30 dressers helping the models prepare for the show.
"If a kaftan is not from Haute Couture, then it does not make it to the show because this event is organized only once a year. They call us the unknown soldiers and this pleases us. True, without us, the show could not take place on stage but without the people who appear on stage, there is no reason for our existence too. In fact, we complete each other."
Jais Zinoun, a choreographer and former soloist with the San Francisco ballet who has graced many of the world's stages, helped stage the show.
"These countries have an enormous wealth, both in dancing and in music. I invited some artists who will represent some countries such as Georgia and China. I used a lot of choreography because I am a choreographer and dancer myself and was inspired by the travelling theme."
Proceeds from the show will be donated to two children's charities.