DUBAI: The only woman from the Middle East and North Africa region on the official Paris Haute Couture Week calendar, Moroccan designer Sara Chraibi flew her latest collection to the UAE on Monday for a showcase at Dubai Fashion Week, just days after the line debuted in France.
Founded in 2012, her Rabat-based label was one of just five Arab-helmed brands to hit the runway at the January edition of Paris Haute Couture Week. Lebanon’s Georges Hobeika, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad, as well as the Saudi Arabia-led, Paris-based label Ashi Studio, rounded out the list.
Other notable names on the coveted official calendar included Chanel, Valentino, Giorgio Armani Prive, Jean Paul Gaultier and Schiaparelli.
Her responsibility as the only women from the Middle East and North Africa region on the hallowed list is not lost on Chraibi, who spoke to Arab News backstage at her show in Dubai.
“It’s a very big thing, especially that I’m the only woman. Presenting as an Arab designer, I’m very proud of that and I want to give more because I feel that I represent something,” she said.
Chraibi is known to take inspiration from her home country and that ethos was on display at her Dubai Design District show.
“This is inspired by Moroccan resilience, especially after (the) earthquake, and I wanted to pay a tribute to that resilience,” the designer said, referring to the September 2023 earthquake that struck the country’s Marrakesh–Safi region.
“I used earthy tones and I wanted to do something very personal and to share (it) with Dubai,” she added of the collection, which is titled “La Terre,” or “The Earth.”
Coppery browns, blush tones and deep, dark corals were offset with lavish gold and bronze embellishments in a collection that featured intricate beadwork recalling layered rock formations.
Chiffon was used to great effect, while kaftans and coats came in semi-sheer fabrics overlain with trailing beadwork.
The night’s opening look featured an oversized coat with the motif of the brick arcades and columns of the Tinmel Mosque in the Atlas Mountains that was destroyed in the earthquake.
“When I started working on my collection, it was very important to have my own tone of voice,” the designer said of why she looks to Morocco as a source of inspiration, both for the story behind each collection and for the age-old Moroccan craftsmanship techniques she employs.
“Bringing a part of my legacy and bringing the part of who (I am) as a designer was a part of this challenge … it’s very important for me to represent my culture, but in a contemporary way. In a way that (is not) cliched and creating my own tone of voice,” she added.
Chraibi counts Moroccan singers Manal and Asma Lmnawar and French-Moroccan actress Ouidad Elma among her fans and is growing her client list to include discerning clientele from across the region, including the Gulf.
The designer studied architecture in Rabat and then in Paris, where she graduated in philosophy and architectural theory. Her Paris Haute Couture Week debut in January 2023 showed off a collection that combined traditional Moroccan craftsmanship with modern elements and materials.