The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
'Prints of Palestine': Weaving Palestinian heritage into contemporary fashion Open in fullscreen

Nada Ramadan

'Prints of Palestine': Weaving Palestinian heritage into contemporary fashion

'Prints of Palestine' redefines Palestinian embroidery into contemporary fashion [FK Photography]

Date of publication: 19 January, 2017

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Jerusalem-born designer Natalie Tahhan hopes to revive traditional Palestinian embroidery with a modern twist in her collection 'Prints of Palestine'.

By weaving unique historical patterns into elegant modern styles, Natalie Tahhan hopes to demonstrate the diversity of traditional Palestinian embroidery and its importance within Palestinian culture and identity.

Tahhan's latest and first solo collection 'Prints of Palestine' highlights historical motifs of Jerusalem, Hebron, Gaza, Jaffa and Ramallah, redefining Palestinian embroidery into contemporary fashion prints with the designer's own interpretation of the art.

In pre-1948 Palestine, embroidery was a traditional craft practiced mostly by village women as a way of preserving their identity.

Mothers would teach their daughters their unique patterns and techniques, creating styles specific to certain regions and villages.

Palestinian women in the 19th and early 20th centuries mostly wore clothes with handcrafted rich and colourful embroidery designs, influenced by basic geometric shapes such as squares and triangles, as well as ancient mythology that dates as far back as the Canaanites.

"In the 20's and 30's if you saw a Palestinian woman in a 'thobe' (Palestinian national dress for women) you would have been able to identify what region of Palestine she was from, whether she was married on unmarried, all from the colours and motifs embroidered on her dress," Tahhan told The New Arab.

'Prints of Palestine. Designed by: Natalie Tahhan.
Photography: FK Photography
Model: Tara Harkink
MUA: Jeniya Alwadhi

According to Jerusalem-born Tahhan, the motifs form a story, a message that has unfortunately become "a lost art".

"It is a language within itself."

Made in Jerusalem, each of the five prints represents motifs and colours specific to a certain area.

For example, the 'Jerusalem' print includes a motif called "Haram Tiles", referring to al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, while the 'Hebron' print includes a motif named "Key of Hebron".

"These messages within embroidery have been long forgotten and I truly wanted to remind people of their heritage in a contemporary yet fashionable way," said Tahhan.

A 'gem' to share with everyone

'Prints of Palestine. Designed by: Natalie Tahhan.
Photography: FK Photography
Model: Tara Harkink 
MUA: Jeniya Alwadhi

When asked on the reason behind her interest in traditional Palestinian embroidery, Tahhan said she had always been drawn to it, but was more fascinated by the historical art when it became the subject of her research during her final year at London college of Fashion.

"After understanding its purpose and meaning, I was surprised by how little I knew about my own heritage," she explained.

"It was as if I had discovered a gem and I wanted to share it with everyone I knew."

With a much more contemporary take on Palestinian embroidery, 'Prints of Palestine' builds on Tahhan's earlier collection Untha, a collaborative line with the East Jerusalem-based al-Murtaqa Women Organization, which had organised a number of community activities offering classes to teach women the skills of Palestinian embroidery, sewing and fashion design.

The solo collection, which Tahhan says was only aiming to "test the waters", has exceeded the designer's expectations, with hundreds of emails and requests for orders from all over the world.

Tahhan is currently based in the Qatari capital Doha, which she believes is a suitable platform to launch the collection within the Gulf.

"Doha has a growing fashion hub, and I felt the brand has a lot of potential to really expand here."

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More