"Beauty matters" Charaf Tajer
“We can be more poetic,” Charaf Tajer says.
Tajer is reclining with a slow unwinding smile. He’s talking about escaping the easy triteness of accepted convention in the language of fashion, but also expressing the philosophy animating his designs for Casablanca, the menswear brand he founded.
“Beauty, that is what I care about,” Tajer says. “People need beauty more than what we think. I like to say, beauty matters.”
Casablanca launched in Paris in 2018 with a burst of bright colors and extravagant reimaginings, hotel robes flowering into two-piece tracksuits and popping pastels painted on silk shirts. Tellingly, other materials favored in Casablanca collections include plush terrycloth and crisp, high-quality proprietary cotton. The brand is “apres-ski” or “apres-sport,” a fusion of lux and leisurewear meant to combine comfort and elegance and built for conviviality after the exertions of life.
“French brand with a souvenir from Morocco.”
Tajer’s designs come from distant dreams, conjuring the swirling Moroccan city where his parents fell in love while working in clothing atelier. Tajer was born in Paris, but his mother sent him back to Casablanca for the first three years of his life and he spent summers there the rest of his otherwise Parisian childhood. This confluence shaped his imagination and informs his designs.
“It’s dreams that I have from my childhood,” Tajer says. “My creative process is definitely not something that I do during a day. I think all the things I saw in my childhood between Casablanca and Paris, how the old ladies of Paris were dressing in a certain elegant way, how the street kids were dressing, as well. The mix of all of that, really — that is what inspired me the most. My creative process is really trying to touch something that I had seen when I was a kid. And really, this is kind of what I’m chasing most of the time.”
Tajer trained as an architect and spent seven years running Le Pompon, the storied underground Parisian nightclub. He was part of an artistic fraternity of ten friends in Paris who called themselves Pain O ChoKolat and gave rise to the streetwear brand Pigalle, whose driving force was Tajer’s best friend, Stéphane Ashpool. The ten friends organized parties around the world. This was Tajer’s calling card: his approach to life is as a movable feast, his attention to detail both exacting and celebratory.
“I heard not long ago the more you smile the more you are beautiful,” Tajer says. “So, I check the smiles of people.”
Casablanca is a laughing love story told by memory in color on hand-painted silk.
“The paintings are important to me because I want to create all the prints,” Tajer says. “I want to create something that is original that is hard to find somewhere else.
For me, it’s very important to create every single centimeter of it.”
Casablanca debuted in the United States at Maxfield’s Prouvé House in April 2019, transforming the space into a tennis court adorned with Moroccan carpeting and a 17-piece capsule collection inspired by the Coachella music festival. Music is central to Tajer; he cites the bawdy bounce of Brazilian music as a key influence. The Casablanca x Maxfield collection gave festival wear a more flowing and luxurious feel, with silk shorts and exuberant peaches painted on silk shirts and shorts.
Tajer says showing at Maxfield was another dream realized.
“It’s always been a dream for me to be at Maxfield and especially have the window,” he says. “Because for me, I always passed in front of this place when I was younger and coming to LA, and I saw it almost like an art gallery, somehow. I was very focused on thinking about this particular window in the world.”
He is humbled to be one of the 50 designers selected in Maxfield’s 50th anniversary celebration.
“It’s an honor, first of all,” Tajer says. “But it means, as well, that I’m a part of this big conversation, and it’s really satisfying for me.”