Local designer meshes twists of Bedouin, Levantine fashion into modern looks

petra orfali
(Photo: Saif Fayez)
AMMAN — A Friday stroll through Jordan’s cultural summer bazaar, Souq Jara, inspired Jordan’s Petra Orfali to take up fashion design at the age of 13. Years later, Orfali’s pieces have found a home in the closets of fashion icons like Her Majesty Queen Rania.اضافة اعلان

“Unique” is the word Petra Orfali uses to describe her designs, which find meeting points between modern trends in fashion and staples of Jordanian culture.

“Our brand is very modern but at the same time, it has a traditional twist. It makes it very unique. It doesn’t look like anything else,” she told Jordan News.

“My brand is adding a lot to the fashion scene. It is something new. We are providing something that does not exist.”

Speaking to Jordan News, Orfali recalled having had a rich cultural and artistic upbringing. Though she alone has found a footing in fashion, Orfali hails from a family of sculptors, painters and musicians.

“I am half Turkish and half Syrian, and I have lived my entire life in Jordan, where everything around you is inspiring: touristic sites, nature, and Bedouin carpets even.”

As such, highlights of Levantine and Bedouin culture are weaved into many of Orfali’s designs.

“I try to send messages through my fashion. One of them, my favorite, is that life is too short and that it is vital for people to do what they enjoy. You would not believe how much joy comes from making a living while doing what you love…,” the artist said.

Her brand, first established in 2008, has since spread beyond Jordan to markets throughout the Middle East and the United States.

Orfali’s hand-embroidered variation on the “hatta” – the traditional Levantine headwear also known as keffiyeh – has been worn by the likes of singer, Enrique Iglesias.

Even a lack of raw materials in the country could not stop Orfali from pursuing her craft; instead, it allowed her to work from scratch as she created an entire fashion collection using furniture fabric.

Another of the artist’s innovative projects was “Plastiqua,” a collaboration with Etihad Bank to repurpose plastic accessories. Past being environmentally conscious, the initiative has also helped a number of local women make an income while finding ways to turn waste into chique wearables.

Orfali stands by the belief that innovation is the mother of invention. Through her work, she provides women with the means to make a living as seamstresses at her workshop.

“We work to empower women, economically and mentally,” she said. “We provide them with moral support, which enables them to learn and work.”

Orfali’s workspace, an interior decked with colorful fabric, sewing machines, and 23 artisan women who bring her designs to life as they fill the space with warmth and laughter.

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