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Meet the Women Reviving Historic Moroccan Crafts

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Youssra Nichane, the co-founder of Dihyan jewelry –a Fashion Trust Arabia finalist is fiercely proud of her country’s centuries’ old savoir-fair and craft. It not only serves the very fiber of her own jewelry brand, but it also ebbs and flows through brands like Khayat by Laila Aziz; Fashion Trust Arabia winning shoe brand Zyne by Zineb Britel and Laura Pujol; MyriamBouafiCouture by Myriam Bouafi; and Studio Sana Benzaitar by Sana Benzaitar. “Youssra had an amazing idea to reunite all these passionate women in one place,” shares Zyne’s Zineb Britel of the video above. “Being able to wear and share our creations with each other was a moment of grace and empowerment.” Filmed in the Selman Hotel in Marrakech, a palace exalting Moroccan craftsmanship further served to highlight the creations that appear like ultimate treasures of women’s capacity for storytelling. Here, ancient symbols are made anew through the eyes, minds, and hands of contemporary Moroccan women.

Moroccan savoir-fair

Youssra Nichan, co-founder of Dihyan jewelry, wearing a caftan by Kayat. Selman Hotel in Marrakech

Youssra Nichane

“Dihyan was born as a beautiful tribute to Moroccan craftsmanship culture and heritage. Its goal is to reconnect women to their roots by transforming jewels dating from the 17th to the 19th century to everyday pieces adapted to the present. Full of history, inherited from generation to generation, the craftsmanship of Moroccan goldsmiths remains the soul of Dihyan. Dihyan’s jewels are handmade in Fes by Moroccan artisans. Preserving cultural heritage and promoting Moroccan craftsmanship is a priority at Dihyan. Our designs are labor-intensive therefore the true heroes and heroines behind our creations are our artisans and goldsmiths. We strongly stand by our artisans through our brand to keep this form of art moving forward to conserve the talent and hard-work behind the hands that bring Dihyan Jewels to life. Part of our profits are donated to sustain a local cooperative for women created by Dihyan, to teach them the goldsmith trade, a sector mainly dominated by men. Our goal is to create jewelry made 100% by women for women.”

Moroccan savoir-fair

Artisan “Auntie Rabha” is dressed in the creations she helped make along with the Morccan designers and entrepreneurial women.

Made in Morocco

Laila Aziz founder of Kayat. Selman Hotel in Marrakech

Laila Aziz, founder and head designer

The Fashion House all started with the making of Haute Couture pieces. These were assembled within a small and exclusive team of tailors in the city of New York. The Haute Couture brand started evolving and growing its identity until it reached the perfect blend of effortless allure, impeccable craftsmanship, and a fashion-forward style. Within a few years, Kayat,  the fashion house, moved to Los Angeles, a city where the story unfolds. The brand became popular among celebrities and was worn by many stars like Jennifer Lopez and Selena Gomez on the red carpet. This success started when Laila Aziz made a red carpet appearance at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. Today Kayat is growing into the making of more ready-to-wear fashion. This is where comfort, luxury, and craftsmanship come together. Our mission is to stay true between our past while moving successfully into the future.

Moroccan craft

Myriam Bouafi of MyriamBouafiCouture. Selman Hotel in Marrakech

Myriam Bouafi

“Each stitch, pattern, and embellishment on our caftans represents the rich cultural heritage and intricate craftsmanship of Morocco. At MyriamBouafiCouture, we aim to honor and revive the timeless elegance of Moroccan caftans through our unique vintage designs and meticulous attention to detail. As a Moroccan designer, I believe that our caftans are not just clothing, but a symbol of our identity and a celebration of our traditions. Drawing inspiration from the exquisite craftsmanship of yesteryear’s caftans, I strive to preserve this legacy and showcase the beauty of Moroccan craftsmanship to the world, ensuring that it continues to flourish for generations to come.”

Moroccan savoir fair

Zyne co-founders Zineb Britel and Laura Pujol. Selman Hotel in Marrakech

Zineb Britel and Laura Pujol

“At Zyne, our mission is to empower women in underserved communities in Morocco by fostering their confidence and self-worth through their work. We strive to preserve and promote traditional Moroccan embroidery techniques by encouraging more women to learn these skills and pass them on to future generations. Our modern take on traditional Moroccan footwear—the babouche—is a testament to our commitment to this goal. Our women artisans are at the heart of our process, with whom we collaborate closely to create our collections. We prioritize their interests and expertise and involve them in every step of the design process. We believe in the importance of the human touch in our handmade products and strive to reintroduce human craftsmanship into the production process. Every aspect of our product is 100% handmade from design to conception. Our craftswomen are the driving force behind everything we create. They are not only our muse but also our source of inspiration.”

Moroccan savoir-fair

Portrait of the women entrepreneurs and designers furthering Moroccan craft. Artisan “Auntie Rabha” is dressed in their creations and showcases her tool for work. Selman Hotel in Marrakech

Made in Morocco

Sana Benzaitar of Studio Sana Benzaitar. Selman Hotel in Marrakech

Sana Benzaitar

“Studio Sana Benzaitar is a female-led handmade rug studio, dedicated to offering the finest, one-of-a-kind, authentic Moroccan rugs made by Amazigh women weavers and designed by an Amazigh woman. Each rug is meant to last a lifetime. From mountain to studio, our rugs are thoughtfully crafted marrying centuries-old traditions and heritage with a female-led modern edge. Our rugs are the perfect juxtaposition of old and new. Historic craft in weaving Beni Mrirt rugs, passed down from mother to daughter, brings women artisans together, hand-in-hand to create each piece. Each rug is a celebration of the women artisans’ art. Each loom is a platform for them to express themselves and share their creativity with the world. We are effectively a female-led approach to Moroccan ‘craftsWOMANship’.”

Project imagery and production Amira Azzouzi @azamira and Chatri Zoubeir @chatri.zoubeir 

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