For Casablanca’s Paris Fashion Week debut last year, designer Charaf Tajer drew inspiration from the hustle of Pigalle, where young Moroccans, dressed in classic French sportswear, primp on basketball courts by day and party at night in the neon shadows of the red-light district. A fixture in the creative community that defined Paris’s club scene, Tajer observed the swagger that partygoers lent to labels like Lacoste and Balenciaga, but didn’t believe such major fashion houses appreciated the support. So for his first menswear collection, the Parisian-born Tajer set out to inspire the Paris fashion set with the type of opulent, colorful scenes he recalls from his youth, visiting Casablanca with his Moroccan parents.
In the summers, Tajer hung out at the Ain Diab beach and saw it dripping with status. “Everyone would descend upon the beach with their best clothes, their motorcycles, their Jet Skis,” Tajer recalls. “Powerful colors, status symbols, silk robes and suits—it was a mind-blowing experience.” With Casablanca, Tajer filters Ain Diab and Paris, both past and present, into the postcard-perfect picture of casual luxury, from après-tennis Parisian silks woven in jewel tones and printed with palm trees to terry tracksuits ideal for looking fresh when stepping off the red-eye.
For his latest collection, Tajer imagines the Casablanca man arriving in the northern-Italian winter paradise of Lake Garda, drawing inspiration from the sartorial self-confidence of international playboys like Aristotle Onassis, whose image appears, wrangling a Dalmatian, on a silk shirt-and-pants set ideal for easing from breakfast business meeting to a nightcap without ever leaving the lodge. (The Dalmatian is Casablanca’s fall/winter motif after Tajer spotted one on a summer holiday along the Riviera.)
Casablanca is particularly attuned to the moment, as the ongoing pandemic promises to imbue office attire with a certain work-from-home casualness as the country re-opens. The brand speaks to a customer for whom the rules of luxury are not defined by nipped formality but by striking colors, bold prints and flowing cuts. (For the less flamboyant, there are also a number of luxurious sweaters and jackets.) While portions of Tajer’s debut collection were produced by Moroccan tailors, his latest show was manufactured by Italian woolen mills and even veers into the technical with ski suits and puffers, in gray and winter white, reminiscent of Karl Lagerfeld’s early-2000s skiwear for Chanel. There’s even a collection of knits and faux-fur-trimmed denim jackets emblazoned with interlocking C’s—his latest (but certainly not last) challenge to the behemoth luxury houses.