Selma Benomar – Luxury Caftan
Moroccan-born and raised designer Selma is the owner of the luxury caftan brand, Selma Benomar. Focused on creating pieces that depict the real Moroccan caftan with combined elements of modern day trends, her design epitomizes the rich culture of the Middle East and modern aesthetics.
Selma’s muse for caftans arises from her childhood memories of watching a close family member indulge in this art of designing and creating a well-made caftan. Her love for creating dates back to these years as she watched hand-stitched, grand pieces being put together, there borne her love for details, embroidery, and fragile yet sharp handwork. Founded in 2012, the brand is Selma’s understanding of herself; that the Moroccan heritage truly had deep roots within her. We interviewed Selma and talked to her about her passion, sense of style and the fashion business…
Tell us more about your start, how did you get into the luxury Kaftan business?
Selma Benomar: Moroccan Kaftan in itself is a luxury outfit. When I came to Dubai, there wasn’t really any luxury brand for Moroccan Kaftans so it was my goal to have a trusted luxury Kaftan brand available to people here. It’s a traditional outfit usually but I did it in a trendy, modern way – from cuts to fabrics. It was my vision to present this in a more up-to-date manner and follow fashion trends.
How do you stay up to date with fashion?
Selma Benomar: I believe in following international trends. I always visit international fairs, events to get a better idea. I attend the conferences to learn about upcoming trends, colors etc. It is important for me in order to create and so I do it twice a year.
How is your creative process like?
Selma Benomar: There is no process for creativity. It is not something that we learn, you either have it or you don’t.
Are you inspired by anyone or any particular style era?
Selma Benomar: I usually get inspired by nature. Not one era or person in particular but I do follow many international designers but my first inspiration comes out of nature. Nothing like it! You can find the most beautiful and unusual color combinations so I always get attracted to this natural creativity and beauty around us.
Kaftans are really intricate and beautiful. How can a woman choose the perfect Kaftan for her?
Selma Benomar: As every outfit, not only Kaftan, the same way you chose a dress, a suit; there are a few norms to follow when you chose a piece for you. Same goes for Kaftans. As they are kind of a dress, you need to make sure you chose the right cuts for your body and the best possible colors for your skin tone. So it is very important to have in mind that the effect of colors and which one goes best with your skin regardless of what is trending. Make sure you are comfortable with your measurements and sizing. We also always advise the customer based on what they like and what suits them. It is not always easy a customer to convince a customer totally against what she likes but it is best to get an expert advice from a stylist especially for women who are not aware of what suits them best. This will further guarantee that the piece fits them well in every way.
Sine you also design for weddings, tell us more about the difference between designing for a wedding and your usual collection?
Selma Benomar: Yes, of course, I design for wedding, brides. But I do not design bridal dresses, I design bridal Kaftans that the bride usually wears on the Henna ceremony night, before the wedding. I don’t do full bridal collections but in each collection I make, I make sure to include some pieces especially for brides. And the reason I don’t do full bridal collections is because most brides want limited and custom design for their big days. So they are actually custom made pieces that I do once for each bride.
Your designs are quite luxurious and sometimes heavy with embroidery and stone work. Do you think about these factors before designing your collection for a particular climate/region?
Selma Benomar: Being in Dubai and also GCC, in general, does impact the designs in a way. As these are hot countries, my choice for fabrics is limited as I cannot use a lot of fabrics because of the climate. And even if Moroccan Kaftans are known to be heavy and luxurious, mine are not. I always choose light fabrics; I work a lot with chiffon, flowy crepe, and organza. So these are fabrics which are not so heavy. And even in terms of embroidery, if you compare my designs to traditional Moroccan Kaftans, mine designs are very light in embroidery. I don’t charge them a lot with embroidery and not a lot of stones. So it is very light compared to traditional Moroccan pieces.
What do you love most about what you do?
Selma Benomar: I think the most I love about designing is turning the fabric into a dress. This is something I love. I usually start with fabrics, I don’t start with sketches. I choose the fabric first and sketch afterward. I really like the whole process of turning a simple piece of fabric into a beautiful dress or Kaftan.
Does your personal style influence your designs? We know you are inspired by your Moroccan heritage?
Selma Benomar: Of course. This is very important to me that I design pieces that I would wear myself. I cannot design something that I would never wear so my style influences my designs a lot. I like very much to wear simple stuff. I love simplicity in general. I don’t like complicated and heavy outfits and this shows in my designs too. And I have to say that I have two inspirations – One my Moroccan heritage that is a big influence but living in Paris for ten years also has a great influence on my designing style because I got the European simplicity into the traditional Moroccan Kaftans.
How has your work evolved since you began your own label, Selma Benomar?
Selma Benomar: Well, it has been quite an interesting journey. It has been five years that I launched the Selma Benomar label. I started with a very small workshop to a bigger one and then again grow to a much bigger one so I am very proud of accomplishing that in such a short period of time. Every time I finish a collection, I am thinking about what is next, what the next collection would be. I always want to better and better. And the most important thing that I care about is my supplies. Maybe this is a very big evolution of my brand that depended on the quality of the fabrics I use every time. I am always keen to have the most beautiful and the highest quality of the fabrics and accessories to use.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Selma Benomar: Well, I have focused the last five years on the local market mainly the GCC market and I think the next five years will focus on the international one.