There are worse places to get stuck in lockdown than Hawaii. Back in March, Charaf Tajer headed to the Pacific state for a nine-day trip to research his fall Casablanca collection. He ended up being stranded there for more than a month.
“I took it as a gift. It wasn’t stressful at all,” he said of the experience. The archipelago provided plenty of inspiration for his collection, which juxtaposed Tajer’s spin on the Hawaiian shirt with his signature retro casual aesthetic. “I saw really incredible colors in the sky,” he marveled. “Now I know why they call it the Rainbow State.”
That kaleidoscope of hues ran through this season’s psychedelic prints, which included a cruise ship docking underneath a rainbow. A classic denim jacket came in a dégradé of pastel colors set off with shell motifs, while a short-sleeved sweater featured a cute intarsia image of surfers, their arms extended into the waves.
There were tennis shorts aplenty — paging Magnum, P.I. — alongside Tajer’s take on the Seventies leisure suit: a cream cashmere terry cloth safari jacket and pants with a crisp front seam. “It’s structured like a suit but comfortable like a tracksuit,” he explained. “A man has to be comfortable to be elegant.”
Casablanca has renewed its collaboration with New Balance, after their first drop on April 18 sold out in less than a minute. The new sneakers, dubbed 237, will go on sale in January. Online sales partially compensated for a rash of order cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Tajer admitted that times are tough.
One of the front-runners for this year’s edition of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers, he welcomed the decision to split the prize money between the eight finalists, and said he was hopeful his upbeat designs would resonate with buyers this season.
“The dark, doomsday style is all well and good, but when you really feel like it’s the end of the world, maybe you want something different,” he remarked. “We’re staying positive and we hope the retailers will follow. I feel like everyone wants to get back in the saddle, so I think that’s encouraging.”