The Blue Caftan: A study in Cultural Influence

I have long believed that we live in an era of infinite possibility- possessing access to all the cultures of the world, and in many cases even cultures gone by. When I see the variety that exists, I am continually amazed that we limit ourselves to such a narrow wardrobe. This is especially true in Paris, where a typically black, staid uniform has become the normal sight. Though it is a step up from the denim and hoodie of The United States, it is only a small step in the direction of creativity and self-expression. 

My clothing choices have always been a bit... extreme... halloween costumes regularly worked their way into my school clothes... the gap between dress-up and everyday was constantly blurred. Clothing was costume. The difference between dressing as one's self, or dressing as a character was never defined. But as a child I watched as everyone around me, and myself included for a time, chose to wear the same uniform as everyone else. Lets be honest at this point and admit that what we wear has very little to differentiate it (in the grand scope of human existence) from that of our neighbor. 

In an effort to streamline my communication, I have decided that it is more important to show you the possibilities rather than bemoan the homogeny I am forced to witness each day. Among the very few garments I packed for my three months in Paris, was this bright blue caftan. My friend Asna said that her father used to wear one like it each day (but in white). I had purchased this piece with a mind to alter it, but the fit was perfect, and it had pockets. win-win. The great thing about a caftan is the comfort. Seriously, your jeans have nothing on this. To keep it from being too costume-y I paired it for this shoot with a sailor's cap, with a pom-pom I stitched on. I also added Doc Martens boots, for a slightly punk edge, and black skinny jeans underneath, because, you know, Paris has wind. I didn't want to create an outfit that said: "Morocco"... I wanted to create a look that expressed "Grant" with a subtle reference to the history and culture of Morocco. (because your clothes say something about your interests, and influences) 

The one downside to this garment seems to be that it wrinkles like crazy. I am crap with an iron... so despite my best efforts (am I a styling failure?)... the wrinkles remained. Whatever. Also I have no idea what strangers were yelling at me while I walked down the street. Thanks to my lack of French language skills... ignorance is bliss. 

My new friend Igor Bednirov was a total dear to adventure with me and take all these photos. He has a pretty stunning portfolio, so be sure to check out his work... and of course we will be collaborating again soon. We shot this on the Pont Bir Hakem, in competition with at least 4 other fashion bloggers and their photographers... so I probably won't be using it again, but it is the perfect place to stroll in the early evening. Be sure to check it out when you visit Paris next. 

In the meantime do something crazy: study a few other cultures, see what is on the runway this season, look back in history. Then take your newfound discovery and wear your findings. Be sure to send me pics because I love style that is coupled with knowledge. 

Jonathan Randall Grant


Culture Keeper