Wednesday 15th April

| BY Dino Bonacic

Bringing Sexy Back (Into Menswear): Casablanca’s Charaf Tajer is Next Up in our 10 Designers to Meet

Instead of asking one person to curate their world for us, for Issue 51 of 10 Men, we presented our own list of designers who we think are making menswear sexy again. While some like the instant reveal and others prefer the more subversive kind of erotica, they’re all giving us hope for a hotter tomorrow. On the week he launches his first collaboration with New Balance, next in our list is Casablanca founder and creative director, Charaf Tajer.

When your brand shares a name with one of the most romantic films of all time – and with the city where your parents met while working in a fashion atelier – you can’t really escape a love-affair narrative in your collections. Not that the French-Moroccan designer Charaf Tajer is trying to do that. Previously of streetwear fame under the pioneering French label Pigalle, Tajer founded Casablanca in 2018 as an antithesis to his career up until that point. “For me, it’s very important to express male beauty at all times. My work, in general, is also focused on beauty, not irony or streetwear,” he says.

While his early interests were in both architecture and fashion, he felt it natural to go with the latter. “As a young teenager, I was already creating and thinking how I could add something to my clothes, or designing T-shirts, tailoring the sleeves on my jacket.” Once he started working in fashion – one of his first gigs was interning backstage at a Rick Owens show – he found himself very influenced by his own personal style: with Casablanca, he admits he is ultimately designing for himself.

His clothes portray the gentle side of masculinity, framed by colourful silk shirts, unbuttoned down to the sternum, and pastel-hued tailoring that takes its cues from archival women’s pieces of traditional French maisons. The brand transmits a feel of tropical summer days all year round. This transformative quality is heightened thanks to Casablanca’s grand Paris Fashion Week shows, which provide an experience and star a diverse range of models, all of whom embody Tajer’s modernist take on manhood. For SS20, he had previous 10 Men cover star Swae Lee walking out in the vintage-perfume- bottle-printed denim twinset. “I love the idea of creating that contrast,” Tajer says. Clad in Casablanca’s vibrant colours and with a piña colada in hand, all we need to do now is work on our chat-up lines. “Club Tropicana drinks are free… ”

The first garment you ever created?

“When I was 12, I took a white jumpsuit and modified its shape. I put a number on the front left pocket and, on the back, I wrote ‘psychiatrie’, to make it look like I’d just come out of a mental hospital. It was a time of rebellion.”

Who are the menswear designers that inspire you?

“Many French brands, but there is one guy who really inspired me, not in the design but in the philosophy – Rick Owens. I find it fantastic that he can come up with something so extreme and be able to put it out there in the world, for people to follow. Any time I doubt myself, my aesthetic and what I do, I always remember that Rick Owens did it, and people buy into it. I really love his aesthetic, it’s just not my style. But I always find his work so powerful.”

What do you wear when you want to feel sexy?

“I love my silk shirts, so for me, comfort and elegance and beauty all come together. When I’m very comfortable, or when I’m wearing a suit that is very comfortable and we go somewhere like a very special dinner, or a party that your beloved one and you both dress up for. Those moments are the sexy ones, of course. But it can be anything, also just a silk shirt, a bit open, very hot weather, that’s fantastic as well.”

Your perfect date-night scenario?

“A beautiful sunset. Sounds clichéd, but to me it’s the best. As always with my work, it’s a good mixture between nature and architecture.”

Top image courtesy of Casablanca. Taken from Issue 51 of 10 Men – GENTLE, SENSUAL, FANTASY – on newsstands now.