“Ample sleeveless peacoat in black boiled wool with lapels trimmed in badger fur. Victorian blouse in ivory Chantilly lace. Fluid ivory silk satin trousers.”
That dry description of look No. 4 in Bouchra Jarrar’s spring couture show sounded enticing enough, yet hardly did justice to her mouthwatering blend of military strictness and feminine grace. In one of her strongest showings yet, Jarrar took the elegance and dignity of the French Republican Guard uniform and absorbed it into her universe of great-fitting pants, killer peacoats and alterna-tuxedos.
Here was one of the French capital’s smallest couturiers creating fashion thrills with the puniest of means: 21 looks paraded on flat-soled shoes and boots in the narrow hallways ringing the courtyard of a municipal building. Her voiceover on the jazz-tinged soundtrack, reading excerpts of Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time,” seemed an unnecessary accompaniment to her riveting clothes.
In the fashion world, Jarrar is something of a sentry: alert yet impervious to distractions. She sticks to her guns, turning out handsome, uniform-tinged tailoring with an inimitable feminine swagger and eye-catching details. Her fetish perfectos took on new guises: Dressy in fancy metallic jacquards; heavenly as a long, romantic mohair coat hand-woven into a hound’s tooth pattern.
Jarrar has never been a great fan of flou, but she keeps pushing herself to do it. For once, her crushed velvet dresses and cowl-neck tops didn’t feel forced, and added a sensuality to her ensembles.
There were fewer harnesses, too, just a latch of braiding holding on backless tuxedo vests. These were softened further with bits of organza drifting off bare shoulders. Jarrar found a dreamy name for them in her show notes: butterfly sleeves.