When it comes to luxury kaftans, few can rival the Moroccan designs of Selma Benomar. By combining her Moroccan heritage, European influence and South East Asian inspiration, Selma Benomar creates simple, lightweight kaftans that are bang on trend.
1. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I am Selma Benomar. I was born and raised in Morocco before moving to Paris for higher studies. My brand of luxury kaftans was founded in 2012 after I moved to Dubai and realized the need for an authentic kaftan brand.
2.What inspired you to become a kaftan designer? Did you always know what you wanted to do?
Kaftans are close to Moroccan heritage. I remember watching a family member work on these while I would watch in amusement. I would watch them manage fabric, hand-stitch material and use different stone work. Although I loved it all, I never really knew that this was something I would do passionately later in life.
I studied in Paris, completed my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Master’s in Quality Management. I worked for almost four years in the same field. Soon I realized I needed to travel and surprisingly landed in Dubai, where I discovered the need for kaftan, real ones and my destiny.
3.So how did you get into the kaftan design business?
Moroccan kaftan in itself is a luxury outfit. When I came to Dubai, there wasn’t really any luxury brand for Moroccan kaftans so it was my goal to have a trusted luxury kaftan brand available to people here. It’s a traditional outfit usually but I did it in a trendy, modern way – from cuts to fabrics. It was my vision to present this in a more up-to-date manner and follow fashion trends.
4.How would you describe your style of fashion and your designs?
If you compare my designs to traditional Moroccan kaftans, my designs are very light in embroidery. I like simplicity above all. Saying that, I think I am most inspired by two factors. Firstly, my Moroccan heritage which is a big influence; but also, living in Paris for ten years has a great influence on my designing style because I put the European simplicity into the traditional Moroccan kaftans.
5.What materials, fabrics and colours did you use in the new collection?
As most of my clients are based in hot countries, my choice for fabrics is limited as I cannot use a lot of heavy fabrics because of the climate. Even though Moroccan kaftans are known to be heavy and luxurious, mine are not. I always choose light fabrics; I work a lot with chiffon, flowy crape and organza. These are materials I work with in most collections.
6.How can a woman choose the perfect kaftan?
The same as every outfit; the same way you choose a dress or a suit. As they are a kind of dress, you need to make sure you choose the right cut for your body and the best possible colours for your skin tone. It is very important to have in mind the colours which go best with your skin regardless of what is trending. Make sure you are comfortable with your measurements and sizing. We always advise the customer based on what they like and what suits them. It is not always easy to convince a customer totally against what she likes but it is best to get expert advice from a stylist especially for women who are not aware of what suits them best. This will further guarantee that the piece fits them well in every way.
7.How did you go about achieving your level of success? We want the secrets!
I believe each person has their own challenges in life and that’s why ‘the secret’ to success differs for everyone. For me, it was a matter of time, realizing that my education and work in the quality management field was not my real passion. I had not realized that my Moroccan heritage and childhood memories of watching kaftans being made were what I was meant to do. Once I realized that, things fell in to frame. I would also add, if it weren’t for the city of Dubai, the wonderful city that it is, I would not have come to terms with the image of kaftans to the outside world and the lack of good, luxury Moroccan kaftan.
8.If you could say one thing to women out there to inspire them on their journey to success, what would it be?
I know most women have different roles to play – mom, wife, daughter, sister – and as women we tend to sometimes overlook what we really want because of our duties and responsibilities. Although this is a trait that we must be proud of, we should also remember that some things are done for the greater good. If you choose to follow your passion today, following your dream might lead to so many people around you achieving something, be it big or small. You may see a good number of energized, motivated women pouring their energy and their passion into manifesting their future and the future of their loved, as opposed to being disappointed or let down. So keep going!
9.How would you describe your own personal style?
I like to wear simple stuff. I love simplicity in general. I don’t like complicated and heavy outfits and this shows in my designs too.
10.Where can people buy your kaftans?
They can buy them at Selma Benomar Atelier, located in the heart of Dubai
11.Can you talk to us a bit about your upcoming projects?
For the past five years, we’ve focused on the GCC market; the next five will be focused internationally. Saying that, I do have my range for the next season coming up, I am always on the go, travelling to South East Asia to get inspired by the natural beauty there. So something will be out soon – stay tuned!
12.You have already achieved so much in your young career, but what would you say is your ultimate goal in life?
To achieve anything, you must be prepared to work hard and never lose the passion you have. You must continue to work with the same passion regardless of success or failure. This is my ultimate goal, I think. To maintain the passion I have for what I do. To see art, creativity and inspiration all around me and produce it passionately based on my perception.
13.Do you have a favourite quote you would like to share with us?
I believe in investing your time in good things that you are dedicated towards and that eventually those things will benefit you and will be associated with you. In simple terms, I believe that if you invest good effort into what you love, eventually it will take care of you. Do what you love and never work a day in your life!
14.Your message for us at CP magazine:
Such a lovely place, Kuwait! Thank you for the wonderful interview. Remember, simplicity above all and health before anything else. Eat well, move your body and more importantly, be positive and have faith. Simple but effective.