Article by Frank Cierpial
Why do we celebrate holidays? Why do we celebrate anything? We celebrate to feel a certain magic. We can all recall a special holiday with our family…let it be Christmas, Passover, or Ramadan. Holidays and religion help us to find an identity. For fashion lovers, Fashion Week can feel like a holiday. It is a time to come together and rejoice over the creativity that great minds have put together to help us express our identities, our style. This Fashion Week is particularly special to me, because identity is my quest and endeavor. For the start of this Fashion Week, my school (ESMOD) took us to spend the day at the Parc d’Exposition where I spent time with friends from school and got to marvel at the future of the fashion industry.
With the recent horrible terrorist events in Paris, Beirut, recently in Istanbul and Pakistan, the future to some seems now bleak. Art gives us a reason to go on and a positive way to look at the future. That is what I saw today at Who’s Next and Première Classe, which is a prominent Fashion Showroom here in Paris. In the two showrooms, we saw fantastic designers who had many different things to bring to the table, but the woman who won my heart is without a doubt Hanane Imani, Hanane is the designer for the brand Moroccan Touch who has been featured in L’Officiel Maroc, which is a French language fashion magazine in Morocco.
After the Paris attacks and the atrocities that are committed by ISIS every day, people now are starting to harbor misgivings towards Muslims. Muslims are being stereotyped as people who do not believe in womens’ rights, who secretly support ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and who are plotting against the West all day every day in order to bring down the occidental way of life. Steroetypes will do no one any good, especially not the West. Many Muslims have spoken up against this stereotype, but few prevail to break it. So people like Hanane Imani communicate their feelings through art.
Morocco is a beautiful country that lies at the top of Africa and boasts an elaborate cuisine, incredible millennium old art, and diversely rich culture. It is a country with many languages some of which being Arabic, Berber, French, and even Spanish. It has been an ideal travel destination and the subject of many movies. We all remember Casablanca. Aside from its place in popular culture, it also is very important in the Arab World. When activists are trying to speak out against stereotypes about the muslim world, notably womens’ rights, Morocco is a constant point of reference, because even though it is a majority Muslim country (there are Jewsh and Christian populations dwelling there too), women are not legally obliged to veil themselves or wear the Hijab out of the house. Moroccan Culture is on the forefront of the argument about whether or not Islam oppresses women and the debate just heated up.
This Moroccan Designer brought to Paris for Fashion Week an absolutely delightful collection that shows a real Moroccan esthetic that can be seen in its architecture, colors of it’s environment, traditional Moroccan dress and art, and gives of a feel of being in the Mediterranean. For lovers of fashion who have been to Fashion Week here in Paris and have visited Who’s Next, they know that it is a huge showroom with hundreds of designers from all over the world and a major destination for buyers. There are theatrical performances that display designer’s creations; there are small runway shows. There are also a bunch of designers who get a stand and talk to whoever happens to walk by. While I was doing my work with my group, Moroccan Touch caught my eye. I used to study Arabic. I personally think it is a beautiful language and it always has been a dream of mine to see Morocco, and Beirut…but that is for a different article. I looked at a few of the pieces one of which reminded me of the Djellaba which is a traditional and unisex Moroccan dress-like garment. It was white and had a beautiful golden finish around the neck line and I was instantly brought back to looking at pictures of Morocco.
The story of Moroccan Touch was started in Casablanca in the quarter called Triangle D’Or where the first concept store was opened. Designer Hanane Imani draws inspiration from shopping in the souks in Morocco. She talks about craftsmanship and beauty and eventually had enough courage to start her own brand. She took handmade embroideries that as it states on her website were once only used to make kaftans and used them to make a variety of clothing. There is some traditional Moroccan dress in her creations, but her creations can be worn by women from Paris to Hong Kong. The colors and the cuts really give this brand a Moroccan vibe that represents the modern Moroccan woman who does not fall into stereotypes. This season in particular is called Maroc Bohème, which is a celebration of the Morocco that inspired artists in the 1970’s. They took inspiration from its landscapes and culture and put it into their art. We can easily see a lot of that in this season’s collection.
This brand really touched me deep in my soul, because it is a way to stand up to the fundamentalists that are destroying the reputation of a religion and a culture. It is a way to say that we will not be characterized and put into categories. It is a way to portray the beauty of a little country on the top of Africa that has big potential. If you are interested in browsing her collection, her website is www.moroccantouch.com. There you can go through her collection and even locate a store throughout Morocco and Europe.
More Fashion Week articles will be coming this week. Enjoy!