The day she gave it to me, I realized how beautiful it was to own this piece because I had a feeling in it there was a whole part of her life, of her experiences. I remember seeing her go off to a wedding in this caftan. And then it’s like if I were wearing it, it was like having this experience of, I might sound strange, but I had a feeling that I was experiencing all these things. And it was beautiful because it was charged emotionally with all she had experienced.
And of the man that made it as well, because she had always explained to me how it had been made. The intricacy, the time it took, the work behind it. And there was a phase where I imagined this man spending months trying to make this beautiful garment. Today we live in a world where everything goes very quickly. Where to buy means replacing, throwing away, and moving on. I just love the things that stay. I think I am really nostalgic for certain things, you know, but I love the value of things that can stay and be passed down from one generation to another and things that define time as well.
That’s why I wanted Halim to be this man who is a little bit … it’s true that when you’re observing that there is something about another age in him. There is, in the way he dresses and the way he is in his attitude, that is not modern. He holds on to this tradition that is beautiful. I think it is a beautiful tradition.
So, basically, this caftan, for me, I didn’t even know why at the beginning. But I think all the things are there for a reason. That’s why I think things mark you when you’re young, when you’re a child, or when you’re older. I mean, everyday life, maybe we get marked by different things, but some things take a lot of space and stay there. Then one day they come out. This caftan came out in the film for this reason, I guess. Because also through this caftan, I wanted to be able to understand further the character of Halim.
Halim is a man that closes himself off from the world because he tries to protect himself from a society that doesn’t necessarily want him, that doesn’t accept who he is. And he’s aware of that. So for him, it’s a way of being in his own world and this kind of cocoon as he’s working with this passion. While he’s working, he’s also sewing his wounds. He’s also stitching his wounds.
He’s making this beautiful caftan for other women to wear, even though there is a small part of his existence that he can’t wear out in the open, in the alleys of the hammams or in the dark somehow. So there is also this complexity between the art form that he makes, that he wants to keep alive, and this tradition that he is trying to save through transmission as well, by transmitting things to Youssef. He’s tried before, but it hasn’t worked with other apprentices. And there is a part of this tradition that is also keeping him from being who he is. So he’s torn as well.