Charaf Tajer, the designer known for his colorful holiday-inspired fashion | Culture
Charaf Tajer’s philosophy made him a prophet in the fashion industry: “In France, people think that to be deep, you have to dress depressingly, but Brazilian music taught me that we can be intense and fun at the same time. he says. “I think in fashion, as in life, you have to look for the beauty of things.”
The 36-year-old founded his brand Casablanca in London in 2018. Founded on the pillars of color, craftsmanship and holiday spirit, the line first found success with Los celebrities. Angeles such as Hailey Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Jeff. Goldblum, before receiving the prestigious LVMH prize in Europe two years ago. Today, Casablanca is sold in over 200 locations around the world. “It doubles in size every six months,” explains its creator. It now benefits from a collaboration with Bulgari, one of the oldest luxury brands in the world, with whom Tajer presented a capsule collection last March in Paris.
From the Italian brand’s boutique on Place Vendôme, Charaf Tajer tells the story of a project that holds the keys to a new creative and economic model. He’s not a typical designer. From ages 16 to 18, he worked as an intern helping to organize parades, but he never planned to perform there. He studied architecture and child psychology. In 2008, with Stéphane Ashpool, he created Pigalle, an initiative whose activities range from the creation of clothing to the construction of basketball courts. He left the project six years ago. “We are still friends and we go out together, but I wanted to create something that I couldn’t find in stores,” explains the Frenchman.
In 2010, he founded Le Pompon, one of the most sophisticated and popular nightclubs in Paris. There, he was finally able to apply his university studies – “drunks behave like children”, he claims – and learned to “deal with people and read them quickly”. These two qualities helped him navigate the tumultuous and sometimes childish world of fashion.
Tajer named his first solo brand Casablanca after the city where his parents fell in love. They had met while working side by side in a textile factory. “It’s an Arab town in an African country with a Portuguese colonial past and a Spanish name, and all those layers are kind of key to my project,” he explains. Her first collection, launched in 2019, was made there in the studio of one of her uncles. Production quickly diversified from Lake Como to Ubrique, where its leather bags were made. “It’s a beautiful city, very similar to Casablanca, with super nice people,” he says.
What started as a men’s brand quickly expanded into women’s clothing. Regardless of what the label said, women bought his caftans and shirts. They have become an increasingly important segment of his clientele. “I think it’s because the brand is a cocktail, where the codes of classic French couture mingle with the desire to bring a little femininity to men’s fashion. Our clothes express a certain softness, and I think that’s important because you have to start understanding that softness doesn’t mean weakness,” he says.
Tajer’s experience at Le Pompon also helped him develop another key skill in brand building: he’s good at public relations. He learned between two bottles of champagne, but also from his late friend Virgil Abloh, a genius in marketing and communication. Tajer designed a capsule collection called The End for Abloh’s Off-White brand. “Our styles were completely different, but we both wanted to enter the world of luxury with capital letters. When he was named creative director of Louis Vuitton, it opened a door for color designers like me. I miss him a lot, ”says Charaf Tajer, who was also an adviser to the cult firm Supreme. In addition to Abloh, his circle of friends and acquaintances includes the crème de la crème of design and the music industry, including Rosalía. “I met her years ago, before she became a world star. I was impressed by her very special way of performing flamenco. Then she came to Paris. We were at a party together and we became friends. And that’s how it is with all the famous people who wear our clothes. Our relationship is based on a mutual interest in our work.
Despite this community spirit, Tajer is not a fan of collaborations, now the fashion world’s dominant gimmick. “I think there are too many collaborations out there,” Tajer says. Still, Casablanca has released previous collaborations with New Balance, and her project with Bulgari consists of a collection of seven Serpenti bags inspired by Roman mosaics and tennis iconography. Despite being an independent brand used to doing everything differently, Casablanca’s next step is to open physical stores. “I’m ready to put all my money into it. I’m obsessed with interior design and I think my background in architecture will help me a lot. Her studies in child psychology have already proven useful.