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Palestinian Heritage Through Fashion : From Classic to Modern

By Sarah Saman , Family Flavours - Dec 25,2023 - Last updated at Dec 25,2023

By Sarah Saman,Beauty Consultant
Photography by Portrait Photographer Anastasia Casey


Palestinian history is reflected in so many facets of life, especially in its fashion; its embroidery recounts a narrative of rich heritage and culture passed from one generation to another.

I decided to focus on this theme for my make-up pages this month. I chose three local fashion and textile designers Lina Lama Burgan, May Khoury and Dana Rimawi, as my muses.

To keep the focus on the outfits, I created a soft look for each of my models with a focus on eyeliner to emphasise the Arab look and to complement the looks of each lady.


A tapestry of tradition


In the heart of Hebron, where tradition weaves itself into the fabric of everyday life, a tale of heritage, love and the seamless blend of past and present is found in its hand-embroidered dresses. Gifted to Hind by her Gazan mother-in-law, Fatima Biltaji Dudin, this dress hails from Dura in Hebron.

The dress was given to Fatima by her in-laws when she married into a Hebronite family.

The dress is a canvas painted with vibrant threads against a backdrop of deep black velvet. The hand-embroidered colourful flowers, meticulously crafted with silk thread, add a touch of artistry that is timeless.

Inspired by the natural hues of Hebron, the rich shades of red, pink and green mirror its landscape.

The collaborative efforts of both desiger Lina Lama Burgan and Hind herself, transformed the traditional garment into a bold and edgy statement; the embroidery found new life as it was transposed onto black velvet.

In Hebron, the sleeves of a dress carry a special significance.

Through careful craftsmanship, Lina worked to preserve the dress’s character while infusing it with a contemporary spirit. The result is a harmonious blend of old and new, where the echoes of Hebron’s cultural tapestry resonate with a modern and bold undertone.

The Hebronite wedding gift from Hind’s Gazan mother-in-law, stands as a symbol of cultural continuity, a living testament to the artistry, craftsmanship and love that binds generations together.


The timeless elegance of a Ramallah-inspired creation


In a burst of colour reminiscent of a sunset over the Palestinian landscape, Lina Lama Burgan brings to life this vibrant orange dress, worn by Reem, that seamlessly marries tradition with modern design.

Crafted from a harmonious blend of raw silk and Aghabani fabrics adorned with the lively charm of Ramallah embroidered flowers, this creation is a journey through, time and a celebration of artistic heritage.

The genesis of this design can be traced back to an old dress that Lina acquired in the late eighties, believed to have originated in the nineteenth century.

Inspired by the intricate beauty of this vintage piece, the designer embarks on a creative odyssey to breathe new life into its essence.

The colourful Ramallah embroidered flowers that grace the fabric are a testament to the skilled hands that meticulously recreated a pattern reminiscent of a bygone era. The rich orange tones, mirroring the warmth of the Palestinian sun, are a nod to the timeless beauty of the region.

The combination of colours in the fabric reflects the palette traditionally employed in the embroidery of Ramallah, creating a harmonious fusion of cultural continuity and contemporary design.


Palestinian patchwork


Designer May Khoury likes to upscale her pieces with oriental textiles as seen in the detail on the collar and cuffs of this vintage purple velvet jacket.

Deema showing the Palestinian patchwork embroidery on this jacket. Each area in Palestine has its unique embroidery motifs.


Palestinian artisans


This prayer and meditation rug by Dana Rimawi, is designed for her label A’MYN and is part of the Serenity collection. It is hand-embroidered and crafted using rich fabrics making it a limited edition and collectible piece. A variety of A’MYN designs are handmade by Palestinian refugee artisans living in Jordan The collection features floral and flowerpot motifs. 

This design represents the unique embroidery of Jaffa.


Reviving identity


The war of 1948 and its aftermath made it difficult to accurately identify the village of origin of some dresses. When refugees sold their embroidered clothing, the identification of the village of origin was often lost and the dresses were labelled vaguely.

This dress, worn by Reem, in turquoise raw silk is a Lina Lama Burgan design embellished with

cross-stitched embroidery of roses.

It is inspired by an old dress which is believed to hail from Ramallah The colours used in the turquoise dress were chosen to complement the current modern lifestyle.

Here, designer May Khoury adds vintage Palestinian hand-embroidered pieces of light yellow roses on burgundy fabric from villages around the city of Ramallah. She uses patches of her own printed designs of Jordanian mosaic, which makes it an easy-to-wear piece. This denim jacket, worn by Deema, is meant to combine Palestinian and Jordanian heritage in one modern piece.


Tradition & elegance


The blend of a classic black silk shawl with a mustard silk border is already a striking combination, but adding vintage hand-embroidered flowers from Hebron creates a truly unique and culturally rich piece.

The patchwork design by May Khoury captures the essence of tradition and elegance.


Mosaic fusion


A combination of off white linen, lace and printed designs of mosaic from Jordan embellish this midi jacket by May Khoury. It is enriched with a few rows of vintage Palestinian embroidery


Reprinted with permission from Family Flavours magazine.

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