One of the designers of clothes in Libya, Nazar Eltim, creates traditional costumes for modern Libyan women. It is a family business for him – his grandfather founded the firm almost 80 years ago. In Mr. Eltim’s store, local females are able to buy a beautiful national outfit for about $800. It is expensive but it’s definitely worth it. The clothing pieces are ornate, made from fine silk and embellished with gold and silver embroidery, gems, beads, and jewelry.
Nazar Eltim runs the family business which started in the 1940s. He uses all that he has learned from his predecessors.
“The traditional handwork, like the leg of the shoe embroidered with silver thread, started in the 1940s, during the time of my grandfather Muhammed Eltim. So, the traditional handicrafts have already evolved over the years”, says Nazar Eltim, costume designer in Libya.
To make the dresses more attractive for the younger generation, Eltim opted to use brightly colored silk and striped materials.
“There is a Bedouin traditional costume which was done with the woolen yarn or silver thread, so the young girls now cannot wear such a dress because of climate change and modern life. I tried to develop the dress using silk and embroidering it with crystal and silver thread, still keeping with the Libyan traditional dress. I just added aesthetic touches that are consistent with modern taste”, explains Nazar Eltim.
But to get the materials he wants, Eltim has to look outside Libya. In the past, materials would have been bought from local markets.
“The difficulties that we face is a lack of what was initially the raw materials, we have to travel abroad to import the materials”, adds the designer.
His customers welcome his efforts to keep the national dress alive.
“We are trying to preserve this heritage, despite many things that changed in the designing, embroidery, and the model”, says one of the customers.
“The Libyans love such graces to preserve the heritage because it has great value for us”, adds another customer.
Eltim's dresses stick around a month to make and are priced above 800 US dollars. The traditional Libyan dress is usually reserved for special occasions, but many women say they're keen to wear it for other events, too.