Sunday 24th January

| BY Paul Toner

Casablanca: Menswear AW21

Casablanca is a label defined by aspirational luxury. Designer Charaf Tajer has looked to traditional French Maisons like Chanel and Cartier to form the pillars of his menswear. Pillars that are lined with gold and adorned in opulent prints that come glossed in shades of mango orange, pretty pink and aqua blue. His AW21 collection, dubbed Grand Prix, looks to the bygone days of Monaco; the 1960s sort of decadence that birthed Casablanca in the first place.

“It was a playground of race cars, casinos, glamour, beautiful architecture. On the track and in the casinos were stylish, beautiful men and women,” explains Tajer. “I was inspired by the unique combination of the different characters in a beautiful building like the Casino de Monte-Carlo; gamblers, tycoons, race car drivers – all impeccably dressed. So much opulence, juxtaposed with the backdrop of the South of France in all its natural beauty.” The designer goes on to say it was the paradox of Monaco that drew him to the theme, that something as mechanical as the Grand Prix can harmoniously exist in the picturesque French Riviera.

As Tajer explains, the demand for the brand is rife. In just two years, the designer has “went from hosting buyers appointments in my mother’s apartment in Paris to having over 200 wholesale partners and New Balance collaborations that sell out in seconds.” It’s a natural progression, then, that this season Casablanca has launched its first womenswear line. Many of the brand’s existing clientele are women, and after a highly sought after womenswear capsule collection for Net-A-Porter last year, now’s the perfect moment to go the whole hog.

Out of the 78 looks in this collection, more than half are womenswear. Statement satin coats, sixties shift dresses, cut-out evening gowns and elevated leisurewear pay tribute to playing cards, roulette wheels and the Formula One checkerboard flag. There is a notable expansion of knitwear this season, as Tajer explains the Casablanca team discovered diverse techniques in developing wool – most notably 3-D printed merino knits that catch a snapshot of racers going head-to-head across Cote D a’zur. A selection of these pieces will be included in Casablanca’s Woolmark Prize collection later this year.

“As we are launching womenswear, it was important that we went for it full-on,” says Tajer, who offers lavish luggage including bamboo-handled leather bags. “We were very considered about the details to get it right – the finest materials, the unique use of bamboo, because it’s an essential part of a stylish woman’s wardrobe. We wanted to offer pieces that were truly special that could be treasured for many years.”

Grand Prix is a completely hedonistic collection – one to wear whilst speeding in the fast lane without a care in the world. A glimpse of optimism for better times ahead. I think we all deserve a bit of that right now.

Photography by Yannis Meynadier.