Like all cool French girls, Bouchra Jarrar has a certain something. “I live in a wonderful city, which inspires me a lot,” she remarks. If the oft-mythologized ur-Parisienne has a wardrobe, Jarrar makes it. The 45-year-old designer, who grew up in Cannes of Moroccan descent, has occupied a certain space among a town of historic, bold-faced maisons: the under-the-radar, best-kept secret. In the past few years, her reconfigurations of the classic Perfecto motorcycle jacket, immaculately tailored suiting, and long, lean-cut trousers have morphed her from a cult hit supplying a whiff of effortless je ne sais quoi to an in-demand maker of refined ready-to-wear and wearable couture. Her pieces are for real women, rather than for objects of fantasy. She doesn’t mince words in explaining her approach, saying, “To dress women is my profession.”
Jarrar founded her label in 2010 after a long stretch honing her skills in Paris’s ateliers, first designing jewelry for Jean Paul Gaultier and spending a decade working with Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga, followed by a stint with Christian Lacroix. After quietly showing at the haute couture collections as a guest designer, she was officially granted the Chambre Syndicale’s haute couture appellation in 2013. Jarrar speaks of her guiding principles with a mix of pragmatic reasoning and emotion. The starting point for her fall couture collection, she explains, was “strength and tenderness,” which translated into high-waisted tailored trousers, black cropped snakeskin jackets, slinky goddess gowns, and feathered-and-beaded vests that wrap around the torso, evoking ethereal birds of prey. It was an idea she probed further for spring, pairing menswear-inflected tailoring with graphic prints and energetic bursts of color. “My goal is to take the time to develop my vision,” Jarrar says of her current ambitions. She’s well on her way.