As an independent designer, Bouchra Jarrar peddles a different kind of couture than the Paris behemoths: no Instagram-worthy mechanical sets, no front-row hullabaloo, no award-season stunners — only painstakingly tailored and labor-intensive clothes skewed toward day.
Jarrar can change your eye with a new trouser shape or the way a jacket lapel slopes. Voracious couture client Mouna Ayoub took in her spring show wearing one of Jarrar’s fetish fabric biker jackets and raving about the masculine, modern touch she brings to high fashion.
“I’m tired of only seeing long dresses, evening dresses, beaded dresses,” she said, also praising the designer for bringing work to France’s remaining artisans with her bespoke tweeds. “She told me who weaves it outside of Paris and it’s a fabulous story.”
“I love her cuts, her sense of line,” added Véronique Nichanian, the longtime designer of men’s wear at Hermès. “I find her very talented.”
Yet the collection Jarrar paraded Tuesday in a wood-paneled townhouse was not a step forward. Black vinyl, glistening like rain on the tarred sidewalks of Paris, was the big story here: used for tapered trousers and as paneling on jacquard perfectos, accentuating their rib-hugging leanness this season.
During a preview, Jarrar said she challenged herself to work with black plastic, striving to make it elegant, yet sharp and with a touch of provocation. The latter reached a zenith with a fur harness strapped off-kilter on a sheer T-shirt, a purposeful nipple-gate incident.
The slanted zippers of biker jackets were transposed onto a tweed sheath and a killer leather trench (the latter part of her ready-to-wear offering), giving each a zing of tough chic. The zippers were trickier on miniskirts.
Jarrar showed more dresses than usual, mostly monastic gowns with draped necklines and cutout backs, or with dense petal embroideries tracing the spine or weighing down a draped sleeve, exposing the collarbone. They left a faint impression, but the ivory tuxedo that closed the show, Jarrar’s version of a couture bride, reenergized the mood with its steeply sloping shoulder line, meaty lapels and daringly low button stance. And minus the vinyl, her tapered pants revealed their jauntiness.