NA-GA-DA, three syllables, clear and magical, that came even before pharaonic Egypt. The name of the village sings like the rhythm of the weaver’s loom.
On the left bank of the river Nile of Egypt, between Qena and Luxor, Nagada hasn’t stopped weaving for millennia. Even the looms are the same as those used 1000 years ago.
During the 20th century all textile production resulted in one product: the ferka. The ferka is a scarf made of a blend of rayon and cotton dyed by the weavers at home. The yarn was provided by merchants, who paid the workers and exported the final product en masse to Sudan. Poorly paid and often of poor quality, the production of ferkas fed about 2000 families.
In 1988, the political and economical problems of Sudan affected the weavers, who were abandoned by the merchants, and left without work.
In 1991, a Canadian development project studied the possibility of restoring the textile activity and mandated Michel Pastore to design the project. Some 30 weavers, the most unfortunate, were chosen to revive the weaving, while Michel Pastore designed new motifs, inspired by the traditional ferka, and taught the craftsmen how to improve their weaving techniques. The outcome was original and of better quality.
The Canadian project lasted only a year, but Michel Pastore continued his venture in association with Sylva Nasrallah, a Lebanese clothes designer living in Cairo. Together they formed a company that kept the original name of the project: NAGADA.
Their concept is based on the idea of revealing modern traits in clothing and fabrics that are hidden in tradition. Using natural fibers such as cotton and silk, or rayon, their creations of clothing and home furnishings are practical, adapted to contemporary life, easy to maintain and well finished.
Today, NAGADA encourages handweaving by using textiles from all over Egypt, or even from abroad. The designs are inspired by traditional clothes of different origins, and are modern at the same time.
Nagada creations are beyond time and fashion.
“.. in the homes that they have designed and furnished, Sylva and Michel embrace pared-down simplicity. The same is true in their geometrically cut clothing, wall hangings, upholstery, linens, lamps and bedding, all fashioned from simply designed Egyptian cotton. Their designs are not primitive so much as calming …” Susan Sachs for The New York Times
NAGADA is a fusion style. “We like to create a timeless fashion, clothes which will never be outdated..” words of Sylva Nasralla, Lebanese-Armenian fashion designer at NAGADA.
‘My idea was to find the richness of traditional design and make it modern and relevant … to be modern in the sense of primitive.” words of Michel Pastore, Swiss potter turned fabric maker and decorator, NAGADA.