Neue Luxury is a global dialogue on luxury in the 21st century.

Neue Luxury




Whip thin with a blunt fringe and poker straight black hair, Bouchra Jarrar cuts a demure figure in the airy, beige surrounds of her Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré office, dotted with succulent plants and modernist furniture. Mere months after taking the role of women’s creative director at the house of Lanvin (following Alber Elbaz’s abrupt departure), she couldn’t seem calmer—surrounded by candid backstage images of her Spring/Summer 2017 runway show, the label’s first to take place in the gilded halls of the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. Hailing from the French Riviera with Moroccan blood in her veins, there is a touch of exoticism to Jarrar that aligns itself with her passion for all things Parisian—a deep-seated contentment to be working in a city that has welcomed her with open arms since her arrival in the early 1990s as a somewhat clueless ingénue with a couture dream.

Dan Thawley: How did you fall in love with fashion? 
Bouchra Jarrar: I was born in Cannes, and I came to Paris after gaining a place in a public school here to learn fashion design. The Côte d’Azur was super, but at a certain point I was looking for more culture, for singularity and liberty, and for me, Paris represents all that. I have always loved to sew and create things with fabric. From a young age, when I had no idea what a designer was, I wanted to be a ‘couturier’. My parents saw my passion and they pushed me to do what I wanted. All my father wanted was that I graduate with my baccalaureate. And I did.

DT: What was your first job in fashion? 
BJ: My first job was working as an intern for a small lingerie company. After that I worked on the licence jewellery for Jean-Paul Gaultier, working on both design and production. I was 24. A year later I had the great luck to join one of the sleeping beauties of fashion, Balenciaga. I first worked with Josephus Thimister. We spent such a great year together despite being so different in terms of style. Like Christian Lacroix, a real bon vivant! At the time I arrived we were only four in the studio, yet there was an incredible atelier of fifty people behind. I would see Nicolas [Ghesquière] in the corridors, who was working on the licensing at the time, and one day he asked me if I would stay with him once he took over from Josephus, and I said yes. And so it was for 10 years.

DT: Why did you leave? 
BJ: I was tired. I wanted to find myself again and rest. That decade with Nicolas allowed me to express myself and my ideas a lot, and so I felt it was time that I could express that on my own. Thanks to my friend Olivier Saillard, I met Christian Lacroix, who was looking for a couture studio director. I was interested to work with him because at the time I had no idea who this woman was who wore his yellow, blue, red gowns. It was such a special time working on his three last couture collections with him. His imagination is populated with such interesting and exotic characters.

DT: And then you started your own label. 
BJ: I felt like I had done a grand tour, and I wanted to try my own thing. I was curious to know if I could even exist in a world where there was already so many clothes, too many clothes. It was an important moment for me, I was 40, and to take a risk at that point meant that I was coming full circle in terms of my experience and also my responsibility for my work.

DT: How did it feel to be approached by Lanvin? 
BJ: When I was proposed this job I never expected it, but I was ready for something at the same time. I just think I was ready to give more. It was a big decision, a real choice for me as a designer and as a woman to take this role. I’m very enthusiastic about the project, and I have so many things to say.

DT: Onto the first show, and the choice of the Hôtel de Ville as the location … 
BJ: It was a show that was intensely anticipated. There were three debuts that season making it a mix of different feelings. But I went in with all my passion and joy for the first outing, and to accompany that I wanted daylight. We worked so much on the light, and were so lucky to have a ray of sunlight appear just at the moment of the show.

DT: So what is next for la femme Lanvin? How do you see this story evolving? 
BJ: At this moment I am confident that my artistic vision is holistic and well-constructed. I believe in each act, each new step, as those are what will express my vision in the long run. For now, I’m very happy to be developing daywear at the house, which is an important new category, and also to already be developing strong statement pieces for the pre-collection. I’m excited to redesign the Paris boutique as my first retail concept, with an exceptional architect who I feel can translate my work perfectly. The house is reorganising, little by little, and I feel like I have settled in.

For more visit

Neue Fashion • Issue 4 • Fashion • Feature • BY Dan Thawley SHARE

Related Features


    Relaxed but chic

    Victoria Beckham is much nicer than anticipated. With the nonpareil combination of Spice Girl ubiquity, marriage to an adored ex-footballer, and now credible fashion designer, you might presume this got-lucky ex-pop star to be beyond modesty, but that certainly isn’t the case. Whatever your assumptions, be prepared to warm to this most blessed of modern celebrities.

  • 223

    Vivienne & I

    Andreas Kronthaler’s first words to me come in the form of playful admonishment. “Are you being naughty?” he asks. He’s caught me trying on hats in the showroom of Vivienne Westwood’s Paris HQ, and arches an eyebrow in mock-disapproval. This imposing figure, all d’Artagnan hair and baggy trousers, cocks his head slightly, but I’m sizing him up too.

  • 225

    Function, necessity, frivolity

    Manolo lives for beauty. He is the Proust of shoes,” states André Leon Talley former Vogue editor-at-large in an interview with The New Yorker. High praise indeed, but as the designer of some of the world’s most covetable footwear, Manolo Blahník, is deserving. Blahník is a craftsman with intimate knowledge on the geometry of a shoe, in particular the precision and balance required of a high heel.

Share this