Journey to Mecca: Costumes and More Costumes
Moroccan-born Costume Designer Emma Bellocq was thrilled to take on the project because Ibn Battuta is part of her cultural heritage. She had only five weeks as of Feb. 21st to prepare the 1,347 costumes for the film. "The script is fantastic. It is our story. We learned about him in school. We're involved a little more because it is our history. It is not every day you get a project like this."
Belloocq is very proud that all the costumes were 100% made in Morocco. The main cast's costumes, and the rich merchants in the caravan were all hand made. For three weeks Bellocq and her wardrobe coordinator Mona Houd researched the internet for 14th century clothing. "It was very hard. There is a lot of documentation about the 18th and 19th century but not much about the 14th century. To design the clothes, we must be close to the story," says Bellocq, whose main sources were museum sites including the Bibliothèque de Paris which enshrines Battuta's original journals; the Damascus Museum, the National Museum of Cairo and Turkish websites on the Ottoman period. In the 14th Century, in North Africa there was a strong Arab influence in Spain, while in south Morocco, the Berbers predominated. The costumes are a mix of these two different influences.
Bellocq verified the costumes with an Ibn Battuta specialist in Tangier, Dr. Hasheb, a specialist on the era. The Ibn Battuta robes were typically Moroccan of the period. "We asked the doctor many questions. We didn't want to make any mistakes, especially for Mecca."