• Biography

    As the daughter of a tailor and a dressmaker, Zhor Raïs knew from an early age that her future would be in fashion and design. She soon found a focus: to revisit the caftan, which was worn as a ceremonial garment, in order to position it between the sacred and the sensual. She’s passionate about crafting the caftan so that it enhances women’s figures while adapting it to the demands of the modern world. Her ambition is to show the world that Morocco is a country that knows how to combine tradition with modernity and also to highlight the importance of the work produced by Moroccan craftsmen.

    She has breathed new life into traditional styles and her creations are leading Moroccan haute couture into the future. These are increasingly appreciated worldwide as they conjure up forgotten memories of tales of the mystic and enchanting Orient.

    Her Story

    “My mother was an excellent seamstress and my father had his own tailoring company supplying army uniforms,” says Zhor by way of an explanation for her early passion for sewing. Even as a little girl, she made dresses for her dolls. At 15, she crafted her own school pinafores, swimming costumes, berets and other accessories. She loved creating and she knew at that point that her life could only go in one direction: that of fashion designer.

    Although Zhor had made up her mind about her future, there was no fashion industry in Morocco at that time. However, she was determined to take that path and, despite her father’s opposition, she signed up for the School of Fine Arts, where she spent two years drawing, painting and sculpting. She learnt how to use paintbrushes and pencils, but not a needle or fabric. So Zhor left the Fine Arts and went to Mme Ines’ sewing school, which had an excellent reputation at that time. Here she was finally able to indulge her creative talents and felt completely at home. Within a month, she could cut cloth, and three months later, had created her first dresses and obtained her diploma. From then on, she made clothes for herself and her friends. She was especially interested in the caftan, which she considered to be elegant yet lacking in creativity and somewhat unflattering.

    When Zhor got married, she continued to work from home, creating caftans for her family and in-laws. However, after the birth of her first child, she decided to devote her time entirely to her family and her home, which she decorated with love and great artistic flair. Nevertheless, she soon found this life unfulfilling and needed to be active. She still had her burning ambition: to open her own fashion house. In 1984, she started up with a workshop in Maârif and showed her first collection in her home, organizing a fashion show for her friends and family. The feedback was so positive that it gave her the impetus to open a new workshop in the Benomar shopping arcade and then, a few years later, she moved to a villa in the Oasis neighbourhood. Zhor’s career had taken off and her creations were highly popular throughout Casablanca. As a result, Royal Air Morocco asked her to represent Morocco at fashion shows abroad and, from then on, Zhor crisscrossed the globe, from Oman to Toulouse, Madrid, Berlin, Munich, The Hague and Sweden, among others.

    Naturally, Zhor didn’t stop there. When the fashion school ESMOD opened up, although she was married with three children, she attended part-time fashion design and modelling courses. She still hadn’t quenched her thirst for learning.

    Her style could be considered audacious, yet stylish and fashionable and that’s how she sees it, “Bold but not provocative”. Zhor’s caftans drape round and flatter a woman’s figure. Zhor transforms necklines and alters the way it hangs, but insists that the caftan preserves its cachet to ensure that it is and always will be Moroccan. If her style were to be described in one word, it would be sensuality. Her thinking is: “Every woman has her own style and also something she’d rather hide. I aim to discover this and turn it to her advantage”. A woman dressed in Zhor is modern, elegant, sexy yet not provocative, sensual without being vulgar.

    On May 27th 2011, Zhor Raïs’ dream finally came true when she opened her own fashion house. For her, creating the House of Caftan, exclusively for Caftans, is the best way to pay tribute to all the highly skilled and hard-working craftsmen who contribute to the beauty of these garments.

    The Story goes on….

    Zhor Raïs has always made it a point to share her passion and keep it alive. Her main ambition is to make sure that the world knows about caftans and the craftsmanship required to produce them.

    It was in 1983, while she was expecting her daughter Chadia, that Zhor created her very first collection. She doubtlessly passed on her passion to her daughter, who grew up in her mother’s workshop, not knowing that one day her life would also revolve around this business.

    In 2005, with Masters degrees in Social Sciences, Economics and Business Management from the Sorbonne University in Paris, and to everyone’s surprise, Chadia decided to train in Fashion Design at ESMOD in Paris.

    She worked with Parisian fashion houses including: JACOB SCHLAPEFER, La Maison LESAGE, ANNE VALERIE HASH and YVES-SALOMON.

    In February 2009, Chadia decided to return to Morocco for good and joined her mother’s workshop. They worked together to prepare a fashion show in Amsterdam in 2011, followed by two presentations of their caftans in different fashion schools. By taking this trip together, Zhor succeeded in passing her passion and cultural heritage on to her daughter.

    A few months later, Zhor opened up her new premises and introduced her new colleague.

    The key dates
  • La Maison

    In 2011, Zhor Raïs ‘ dream finally came true when she opened her own fashion house. She deliberately stayed away from the limelight for several years so that she could devote her time entirely to achieving her goal and to designing the perfect premises. The result is a minimalistic space that is bathed in light, where nothing is displayed so visitors are not detracted from its extreme sobriety. This immaculate area was designed to reflect a profound desire: to look towards the future while keeping the past in mind. She wants this space to convey a feeling of peace, clarity and hope.

    The House of Caftan

    In Zhor Raïs’ view, caftans represent different cultures and light, so should be displayed in a place where their radiance can be appreciated. The pure lines of the House of Caftan are designed to pay tribute to the cultural heritage of the caftan. To underline this, she has set up her workshop, with all the artisans, in the heart of the establishment.

    The building is a large villa divided into three floors. The reception area is decorated with white marble and glass, giving an impression of transparency and light. Through a large glass-covered opening in the floor you can see the beating heart of the house: the workshop where so many skilled fingers operate. The upper floor is reserved for private fittings in rooms that have been ornately decorated by the lady of the house.

    Zhor Rais’ Fashion House opened its doors with its first collection entitled “A Burst of Light” by keeping the atmosphere of the space. She claims, “The inspiration for this theme came from the house itself”. As the collection and its surroundings blend in together, white was obviously the colour that expressed this mood and gave the craftsmen the best background on which to display their expertise.

    Zhor and Moroccan craftsmanship

    In Morocco, thousands of craftsmen perpetuate their arts and traditions by reproducing exactly what their ancestors did. Whether they work in small booths, in the interior courtyards of the old houses in the medina or in groups in modest workshops, their greatest pride is in producing impeccable work. The lavish fabrics and unique items they have worked on are often destined for a bride’s trousseau or the wardrobes of Moroccan ladies, and some are sold abroad to those who have discovered the charm of the Moroccan caftan.

    In 2006, Zhor Raïs set up an association named “De Fil en Aiguille” in order to pay tribute to these invaluable workers who have contributed so much to the reputation and richness of the caftan and who, to this day, perpetuate their traditions and know-how. By way of a piece of golden embroidery, these men and women reproduce the rare and unique gestures that transmit not only their age-old expertise, but also the country’s history, culture and values. This non-profit association was set up principally to show the world that Morocco is a welcoming country with a rich history and set of traditions that is also focussed on the future and innovation.

    At the same time, Zhor Raïs organized an exhibition in the Batha Museum in Fez that showed the different stages of caftan-making: design, production, embroidery, weaving, embellishments, beading...

    Following this exhibition, she arranged a fashion show at the Mokri Palace with the same objective: to highlight the craftsmen work. At the end of the show, she invited the craftsmen to come on stage. In Zhor Raïs’ opinion, they deserve all the credit.