Combining traditional Palestinian embroidery with chic modern styles, Natalie Tahhan wowed crowds with her fashion designs at a Jerusalem catwalk show this week.
Embroidery is a common cultural tradition throughout the world but the Palestinian style is considered unique due to its vivid colors and bold patterns.
In pre-1948 Palestine, embroidered garments were the norm for Palestinian women. However, Tahhan, herself a Palestinian, told Al Arabiya that she feared the traditional style was becoming “a dying art.”
The traditional embroidered garments draw on ancient traditions and customs to inspire the designs, even drawing from influences going back to the ancient Canaanites. Mothers would teach their daughters their unique patterns and techniques, creating styles specific to small areas. This tradition has long since faded, however.
“This is long gone. Now people look at the motifs and they don’t know which city or village the girl is from, or her age, or whether she is married or single,” Tahhan told Al Arabiya.
The fashion show featuring Tahhan's designs was planned in only two months by the East Jerusalem-based Al-Murtaqa Women Organization. After receiving funding from the Community Resilience and Development Program, Al-Murtaqa decided to launch a luxury fashion brand.
"The fabrics were manufactured in Jerusalem. The models, the photographer, even the hairstylist are from Jerusalem. This is the whole point. The whole thing is made locally. Everything involved is from Palestine," Tahhan explained.
"The whole point was to create something here that hasn’t been done before. At the same time, throughout all this, we created job opportunities for many people."
About 40 local women were provided with employment because of the launch of the new brand, which has been named Untha. Following this week's show, the new label plans to create designs as orders are placed.