Moroccan designer Sara Chraïbi worked as an architect before choosing couture, having been taught to sew by her mother when she was a child.
For her first show as a guest on the Paris couture calendar, she wanted to weave together a collection like strands of her own history, she explained backstage beforehand.
There was something of the ceremonial about her “L’Etoffe des Songes,” (The Fabric of Dreams) collection, interpreting couture tropes with depth and structure.
Many of her silhouettes were built from frameworks like the steel girders of buildings, in a largely sober color palette of black, white and navy blue, through which glimpses of the figure could be perceived.
Thousands of strands of sabra — a form of silk made from the aloe vera plant and is traditionally used in Moroccan passementerie — were the interwoven cords that formed the vertical lines of her scaffolding, emerging as fringed edges that brushed the floor, at times interspersed with panels of softer chiffon.
Gilded ornaments and chains lent bearing and a sense of the mystical, interspersed with pearls, which formed the rippling looped strands of a short cape. Accessories included gem-shaped clutches that dangled from the wrist, punctuated with crystal embroideries. Rich velvets added depth and poise when worked as simple pants underneath her frameworks, or drama, as on a long robe for which square-shaped blocks were covered with the material and adorned with star motifs.
Sara Chraïbi founded her fashion brand in Paris in 2011, before relocating to Rabat, where she was born, in 2014. Her atelier employs 11 or 12 full-time embroiderers and seamstresses, all but one a woman. She sees fashion as “another form of architecture, it’s just the scale that’s different,” she said. “It’s as if you were designing a building but on a one-on-one scale.”