Fashion Designer Celebrates Palestinian Culture

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Palestinian and Jerusalem-born designer Natalie Tahhan is proving that fashion is all in the details. 

In her new collection, “Prints of Palestine,” Natalie Tahhan hopes to celebrate Palestine’s fashion culture through unique embroidery-specific to individual regions. Tahhan hopes to revive the dynamic meaning behind the country’s expressive designs.

“When I started working on the project, what I wanted to highlight was that Palestinian embroidery was actually a language in the late 18th or early 19th century,” Tahhan said.

A post on the designer’s Facebook page explains Tahhan’s purpose behind creating this latest collection, emphasizing “the sublime language of Palestinian embroidery.”

“Highlighting historical motifs of Jerusalem, Hebron, Gaza, Jaffa, and Ramallah, the collection redefines Palestinian embroidery into conceptual, vibrant, contemporary fashion prints.  Every unique print communicates a different language, colour and identity, specific to each region,” the Facebook post explained.

Although Tahhan places a strong emphasis on tradition with her new collection, she’s also committed to bringing these ancestral designs into the modern world of fashion.  On Tahhan’s Facebook page, the collection is described as “…fashionably bringing Palestinian embroidery into the 21st century.” 

She hopes that “Prints of Palestine” will share the beauty of Palestinian culture by incorporating the traditional and authentic embroidery into modern designs.

“People look back at these motifs aesthetically and don’t really know that they have a meaning.  I wanted to bring that back,” she said, explaining her intentions for the collection. 

One way she hopes to modernize these traditional designs is to create innovative pieces, with unexpected materials and pieces.  For “Prints of Palestine,” Tahhan used printed silk to create visually alluring designs on capes.

“This is something I wanted to create that hasn’t been done before.”

The modern, young designer has even been recognized for her commitment to traditional Palestinian fashion.  Her 2015 collection, “Untha,” was celebrated for bring “100 percent Palestinian,” a result of her collaboration with a non-governmental organization in Jerusalem.  Her collaboration with an NGO also shows her intentions to shift any focus away from politics, and zero in on the fashion’s culture itself. 

“I focus on highlighting the beauty of something that exists within our culture,” Tahhan said.

She ultimately hopes to establish a Palestinian culture of fashion, and has certainly succeeded getting the support of other Palestinian women, which has encouraged her to continue designing. 

The collection’s consumers are not limited to fellow Palestinians, however, and Tahhan’s designs have already sold to women around the world, from South America to Asia. 

“I thought it would be an interesting thing for Palestinians mainly, but the [customer] base has been a mixture of cultures and ethnicities,” Tahhan said, expressing her surprise at the collection’s popularity.

With her success of bringing Palestine’s traditional fashion to modern fashionistas, she sees opportunity for expanding her designs to include an array of pieces. 

As for the future of collections celebrating a vibrant Palestinian culture?  Tahhan says she has every intention of continuing to design what’s she’s passionate about. 

“It is important for me to produce something initially and artistically Palestinian… Because for me it’s personal and very close to home and something I’ve grown up with,” she said.

Even with fashion’s ever-changing landscape of modern design, Tahhan proves that it’s worth returning to roots of tradition. 

My favorite things in life include cozy coffee shops, window-shopping, wearing the perfect outfit, or writing the most satisfying words.

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