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Designers fuse Jordanian culture with Italian fashion sensibilities

Collaboration seen as step for local industry to break through international market

By Suzanna Goussous - Nov 05,2016 - Last updated at Nov 05,2016

Models showcase clothes by Jordanian and Italian designers during a fashion show at the Ras Al Ain Hangar in Amman on Thursday (Photo by Osama Aqarbeh)

AMMAN — Five local designers and an Italian fashion designer have collaborated to produce a combination of the modern and the traditional, introducing Jordanian talents to the international market.

At a fashion show held as part of the 16th Italian Language Week on Thursday evening and organised at the Ras Al Ain Hangar by Creative Jordan, the Italian embassy, and Garment Design and Training Services Centre (GSC), designers presented a collection tailored to appeal to the Western market.

The collection, dubbed “JO!”, is characterised by the use of denim with embroidery from Jordanian culture to “produce contemporary pieces with a modern touch”, Graphic Designer Talaat Haddad told The Jordan Times.

The collection, he said, is dedicated to the European market. “We took the European taste in consideration more than the Oriental taste.”

In the 1920s, designers would use denim and indigo fabrics, which were also used by Jordanians to produce traditional dresses in the Kingdom, Haddad said.

Jordanian fashion expert Dina Maqdah said the embroidery was added to “make the pieces more interesting”, with very abstract and modern patterns.

“We chose denim because it is a very international fabric; everyone uses it and everyone owns a jeans,” Maqdah said.

As a fashion designer, she said she appreciates mixing cultures in art. “I always say embroidery has an important value in our culture… this is a new interesting way to include embroidery in fashion to keep it fresh.”

Italian fashion designer Caterina Filice said the collaboration would pave the way for international projects in the future.

“The collection took inspiration from the Jordanian tradition for the shapes of the embroidery, but we translated it in a contemporary way. The simple shape of traditional garments became something easy to wear,” she told The Jordan Times.

Filice added: “In the traditional garments in Jordan, we find fabrics dyed with indigo... Blue for us is the contemporary indigo.”

“We used a very unique Jordanian stitch — the diamond stitch — which is from Jordan but not used [often] here. We came out with this collection which is casual and sophisticated at the same time,” the designer explained.

She said the collection, which consists of 50 pieces, was inspired by the simplicity of the Jordanian culture and traditional wear, which the designers worked on to produce items of different lengths.

“It’s something comfortable that every woman can wear,” Filice added.

She said the collaboration between Jordanian and Italian designers is an opportunity for both markets, since the Italian taste and the traditional taste in Jordan can discover new options.

“We [fused] the richness of Jordan with the richness of Italy; we gave value to the quality of both countries… It’s not only Italian; it’s not only Jordanian; it’s a mix. In this mix, we have created something that is totally new and strong.”

EU Ambassador to Jordan Andrea Matteo Fontana said the collaboration between Jordanian and Italian designers will develop the sector in Jordan.

“We believe there is a lot of potential to increase the exports from Jordan to the EU and other Mediterranean countries,” he said at the event.

“This combination of exchange between the traditions of Jordan and Italian knowledge in the area of fashion can help us make progress in this fascinating area,” Matteo Fontana added.

Also speaking at the fashion show, Italian Ambassador to Jordan Giovanni Brauzzi said Jordan is going "in the right direction". 

"Italy is glad to be associated with this endeavour. We have a very high reputation in terms of design, beauty, and wearability of our products,” Brauzzi said.

The ambassador added that he believes Jordan has the potential to join and become a good partner in the fashion industry.

“Your design industry is a creative one; there is a vibrant atmosphere. We have witnessed it a few weeks ago… [at] the Amman Design Week, I think this is the right way to go,” Brauzzi said.

GSC CEO Ameed Abdel Qader said the sector is developing step-by-step, and young talents should be given the opportunity to shine. 

“Our aim is to train talented Jordanians to become fashion designers and upgrade the Jordanian garment sector,” he said.

Organisers said the project is funded by the EU and the Italian Development Cooperation, and implemented by the UN Industrial Development Organisation.

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