All photos by Erin Leydon
The caftan has been worn by various cultures around the world for thousands of years. At one time or another, the caftan has been constructed out of just about every fabric imaginable. It has been worn by both men and women and has crossed the divide of every culture, religion and price point. Laura, our own contributing fashion historian who does a weekly post for me here on the blog, recently wrote a short historical perspective on the caftan for the inaugural issue of Arabian Vogue which you can read by clicking through here if your interest has been piqued. She notes in that article that "It was not until the 1950s and early 1960s that this style of dress began appearing in high fashion when it was adapted by French couturiers—including Christian Dior and Balenciaga —as a new form of loose-fitting evening gown or a robe over matching trousers. By 1966, Vogue described the kaftan as an essential garment for every member of the jet-set and photographed “the beautiful people” in an array of imported traditional styles and western adaptations, “Here are the most becoming fashions ever invented: the languor of the seraglio clings to them; leisure and repose emanate from them. The classic robes of the Near East, they’re now, suddenly all over the contemporary map—inspiration of great dressmakers and every woman’s discovery in beauty…”"
For me the caftan is an essential part of my wardrobe. They are just easy. Whether it is a caftan that is a bejeweled and elaborate affair, like the red number I am wearing here, or a sleeker, more streamlined version, the bottom line is that it is pretty much a dress that you pop over your head and forget about. How can you not love something like that?
The volume of them scares some woman but that is just a simple matter of picking the right caftan (vintage is usually better) and one that is made out of the right fabric (think flowing). When I took these photos I made sure that I got some where I was moving. Because when a caftan is made right, and of the right fabric, it moves when you do. The fabric swirls around your body and highlights a bit here and then, as you move, it highlights a bit more over there. It is all a suggestion, a tease, of the body underneath. When someone says that a caftan is too much fabric for them, I say something that has been around for literally thousands of years has its own little secrets that you might just want to listen to. In a world where sexy means tits and ass hanging out all over the place, a woman who walks into the room covered in fabric from neck to ankle, makes a statement and that can be the very best possible thing sometimes and instantly becomes the sexiest thing in the room. Weird huh? But true. Especially when, with every move you make, people start to wonder just what delights are underneath all that swirling fabric anyway? Sometimes there is something to that old saying about leaving a little to the imagination.
I honestly don't get women that don't understand how easy this kind of dressing is.
You put it on.
You add shoes.
And then you are done.
Give me an event that you have to dress "casual chic" and I am lost and in a panic. Give me a full on gala and a jeweled caftan and I will be out the door faster then you can decide whether you spell caftan with a C or a K.
PS love this one? Get the details on it here and let me just say that it is even better in person. All those jewels are prong set and there are oodles of them. This apparently came off some movie set from the sixties so you might just spot it some Saturday afternoon when you are watching old movies, who knows. For those curious about the rest of my outfit - the sunglasses are Gucci and the shoes are Saint Laurent Candies.
Oh and the dog? That is my newest addition to my family - her name is Princess Bean and she is a Great Dane puppy who just turned 4 months old.
But don't worry, no caftans were harmed in the making of these photos :)