Many women don traditional caftans or djellabas during Ramadan, even if they don't usually wear them. The View from Fez takes a look.
The djellaba is a long garment, usually with bell-shaped sleeves and a hood. It usually features heavy embroidery and hand-made silk buttons. It can be a work-a-day coverall, or a highly fashionable statement. As people look to tradition during the holy month of Ramadan, many women wear them as a matter of course. Tailors do a roaring trade just before Ramadan starts, and again just before the Eid, when many people like to have new clothes.
|silk embroidery and hand-made buttons adorn a djellaba|
Imane Belhaj, writing for Magharebia, reports that interest in the djellaba grows around national and religious holidays.
"In Ramadan, I stop wearing modern clothes and I wear djellabas that I buy especially for this occasion, because we are supposed to wear decent clothes, and there is no better option than the djellaba," said Farida Nasi, who chooses modern designs.
"This has made it a uniquely Moroccan form of dress that is indispensable at all times and occasions, even in the workplace for female employees, as it no longer impedes them from moving easily," says tailor Hajj Bouhlal.
There are sleeveless djellabas to suit the hot weather, and dresses made of silk of different colours and patterns.
Fatima Mourad, a university history researcher, explains that "the djellaba has a traditional image that embodies the past and links it to the present by adding a modern touch that makes it suitable for all time and for all generations."
Rashida al-Jabri, a teacher, added that she can't foresee the extinction of the djellaba. Regardless of developments taking place over time, she stated, the garment will be passed on to later generations.
Although some types of Moroccan djellabas are still affordable to a large category of middle class citizens, the innovations of top designers and dressmakers have made them very costly. Prices in some cases are now higher than those of traditional caftans or takchitas (a form-fitting dress with matching coat).
"These prices are due to the type of fabric and sewing accessories used, which are often of very high quality so that we may not let our customers down when they are looking for quality and elegance" said designer and dressmaker Soad Benkirane.
Benkirane added that customers could choose to have more affordable djellabas made.
"Everyone knows that the hands that excel in making djellabas are very cheap, while all the huge profits go to the owners of stores or holders of trademark," lamented Nora, a consumer.