The kaftan or Kimono has always been at the heart of our collections a classic shape and a beautiful canvas for a dramatic print.
The caftan seduces the body. A most unlikely garment of sex appeal, it turns yards of fabric into near nudity with the right warm breeze, and its unfitted form has been irresistible to cultures all over the world for thousands of years.
In high fashion, the love affair with the caftan dawned at the beginning of the 20th century. When Queen Victoria’s granddaughter married Czar Nicolas II at the end of the 19th century and became Czarina Alexandra, she was photographed in the loose, traditional kaftan dress of the opulent Russian Orthodoxy. Her new appearance spurred a taste for the exotic in Europe and The Ballet Russe fed that appetite. Headed by Diaghalev and with costumes by Leon Bankst, the wildly popular Parisian troupe performed Sheherezade in 1910. Set in the heat of Arabia, the ballet brought the ornate luxury of the Middle East to the height of fashion. In the same spirit of Leon Bakst’s costumes for the ballet, designer Paul Poiret, headed the charge of dress liberation. Taking mystical Arabian dress as his aesthetic he championed drapery over tailoring. His wife Denise Poiret was his muse, and he dressed her in voluminous garments that soon graced the backs of nearly every fashion-forward woman. The waist was nowhere to be found, and womens’ bodies were let out of their corset cages for years to come.
The second rise of the caftan began in the mid-1950s with Balenciaga’s sack and trapeze dresses, and exploded into fashion in the late 1960s due largely to one single force: Diana Vreeland. The beloved Vogue editor’s approach to fashion was revelatory. On the wings of newly accessible jet planes, she sent her models and photographers to far-reaching destinations and dressed them accordingly. In 1967 the pages of Vogue bloomed with caftans under her direction. Oscar de la Renta, Pucci, Pierre Cardin, and Valentino crafted printed caftans of every color and pattern. It was the haute version of a hippie’s free love clothing.
Source : Nomad Chic
Dressing Table Print 140cm x 300cm
Filmed by Ram Shargill for our 2015 Collection and exhibition.