Casey Wheeler - June 29 2023
Kaftan Dresses: History in Our Present Style
To wear a Kaftan dress is to embrace the fashions of the ancient past, luxury fashion’s past, and the present state of style. Known for its loose, flowing shape, and iconic sleeves, the Kaftan is an iconic piece of ancient Persian history. The history of the Kaftan spans several centuries and continents and this legacy carries on in Obioma’s various styles of dress.
In Ancient Mesopotamia, where the Kaftan finds its roots, the robe was known for its association with wealth and power. The robe represented a unisex way to assert these themes for the royalty of the Ottoman Empire. These robes, too, were common to Arabia, where they were known as a more common garment and worn with a sash, a style embraced by many still today in contemporary fashions. It can be noted in historical Kaftans that the more intricate and embroidered the fabric, such as silk or brocade, the higher in society the wearer would be.
Charlotte Jirousek describes the kaftan and the word’s origins in “The Kaftan and Its Origins” in Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion: Central and Southwest Asia (2010): “The term kaftan (also spelled caftan) usually refers to a long, unfitted coat of Turkic, Persian, or Central Asian origin. It can also refer to the outermost layer of a series of coats and jackets, worn by either men or women. The word kaftan came into the English language in the late sixteenth century, when it was introduced as the Turkish term used to describe the long, formal coats worn by members of the Ottoman court. The word is also found in various forms in Turkish, Persian, Russian, and East European languages, as well as many Central Asian languages.” (134)
Kaftan, 19th Century, Bukhara (Modern Day Uzbekistan)
So when did the Kaftan reemerge into Western fashion’s public eye? It was designers such as Yyves Saint Laurent and Halston that the Kaftan once again saw success in the 1960s and 70s. This style coincided with the hippie/boho movement of the time and the embracement of Eastern styles.
This style has made a popular resurgence in womenswear since this time, and nowhere is this passion for the Kaftan more evident than in Obioma’s collections. Choose from the Anwu, Idemili, or Ebeanto Kaftan for the feeling of elegance and royalty as you grace the streets in these minimalistic silk unlined Kaftans. Alternatively, opt for a bold choice such as the Agege Kaftan to catch the attention of those around you. However you choose to wear a Kaftan with Obioma, you are sure to embrace these historical styles in a new, fresh way. Pair these with a belt or a bold necklace for a complete look, and some bangles. These, too, pair well with some large sunglasses. Perfect for summer and giving you the type of airflow you need, turn to Kaftans for this summer.