This reviewer has never bought into the women-designing-for-women-do-it-better line of reasoning because decades of fashion history, and considerable personal anecdotal research, suggest otherwise. Excellence in fashion knows no gender. Yet there is something about Bouchra Jarrar’s clothes that feel so right, so practical and efficient in their glamour that one can’t help but wonder if Jarrar isn’t her own best muse/fit model/sounding board. Her work — actually luxe ready-to-wear with a soupçon of genuine haute couture (a balance she’d like to shift toward the latter) — fuses chic and sensible with quietly glamorous élan.
The collection Jarrar showed on Monday was fabulous, based on a single piece. “I used all of the items of the day-to-day trenchcoat, always keeping the fitted waist,” she said. Sometimes that meant cropping the trench into a sleeveless top over a skirt; sometimes, merely translating its classic gabardine fabric into an A-line skirt with movement paired with a loose V-neck shell. Always, there was tremendous attention to detail, whether in a skirt that featured flat and pleated planes or a top with trenchlike straps and buckles, worked in artisanal tweed and finished with trousers. For evening, she pilfered from the trench ever so subtly, incorporating bands and ties into languid gowns.
Despite the gentle lines and infusion of soft blues and purples, Jarrar made ample use of tough elements — such as corsetry, leather and hardware — that could be classified as semiaggressive. Their prominence made the primary takeaway of unfussy femininity all the more impressive.