On repeat: The season's chicest garment.
Often associated with the haute free spirits of bygone decades, when island-hopping to fabulous villas and nightclubbing in Paris's most exclusive corners were the orders of the day, the caftan is actually believed to have its origins in ancient Mesopotamia. Ottoman sultans' ornately decorated robes were often constructed from silk, wool, and cotton, usually tied with a sash, and had defined sleeves. The garments would even be given to dignitaries and generals as rewards or gifts.
The caftan eventually made its way into Europe by travelers who brought the attire back with them when returning from these exotic and faraway lands. Fashion houses like Dior and Balenciaga soon adopted the style for their Western customers, often with matching trousers for evening wear.
Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, visited Marrakesh in 1968 and were entranced by Moroccan culture and the country's textile heritage. Laurent started making caftans for people like actress Talitha Getty and model Marisa Berenson. Other designers, like Oscar de la Renta who fashioned caftans as hostess gowns for his clients, put their own spin on the age-old garment.
During the '70s, the caftan saw true elevation to icon status when it became the must-have garment for the bohemian and trend-setting in-crowd. Diana Vreeland frequently photographed caftans in exotic locales; Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly, and Elizabeth Taylor also all donned the iconic garment. Taylor even wore a Gina Fratini creation for her wedding ceremony with Richard Burton.
The caftan has had many different iterations in countries and cultures around the world, making it a truly global fashion phenomenon. Today, the caftan's allure is just as magnetic as it was during the 20th century. Below, our favorite current styles this timeless staple.