Casablanca quite literally just performed a Parisian crash landing into Men’s Fashion Week. In the dimly lit show space, we found ourselves surrounded by their evocative, Mediterranean aesthetic tiles in a vivid range of shades. The focal point however, happened to be a huge, weather-beaten fighter plane suspended by flowery overgrowth, dominating the centre-stage.
At first glance, it looked as if the aircraft had crashed onto the runway a few years ago and genuinely hadn’t moved an inch. Despite the constructed devastation, there was a peaceful atmosphere all around the space. A thought occurred that maybe the models would be the castaway characters in this survival show.
In unwavering Casablanca style, country club cool was complemented by sunkissed, nostalgic colours. Kaleidoscopic checked pieces were decked out with sequin embellishments and crafted bamboo accents prevailed throughout the collection. At the core though, Casablanca’s usually carefree, getaway aesthetic had a sombre undertone this year. Before the show kicked off, the brand’s Founder and Creative Director Charaf Tajer took to the stage to make an impassioned statement surrounding war and beauty, reflecting on his time in Damascus and witnessing of what he called “a living paradox”. For Casablanca FW23, change was in the air – and through the pain of a war zone, Tajer strived ‘For the Peace’ through key items in his collection.
A ROSE BETWEEN TWO FIGHTER VESTS
A nod to the raw plight of war was symbolised through padded fighter vests, which though finished in classically spirited Casablanca colour ways, featured a poignant addition. Emblazoned across the front of one vest we saw soft, gentle flower prints sprouting from the seams – an emblem of peace found within the war zone.
The model clutched a bouquet of dusty pink roses of the same ilk (a still-life accessory spotted frequently during the show) as they made their way down the runway. As a symbol of strength, the rose took us back to Tajer’s initial speech, referencing the show’s theme of “a theatre inspired by courage”.
Checked pieces synonymous with Casablanca’s French-Moroccan roots cropped up everywhere within the collection, from a vivid belted mod suit (followed by floor-length coat to match) plus a sequinned bolero style jacket and a glittering hooded mini dress. The standout piece however, was a structured cream cape – finished with prismatic, sequin accents along the fringes. With elemental design hints of a matador’s muleta, was this Casablanca’s ode to an alternative soldier’s uniform? Taking note of the label’s rose-tinted view of the world, this flowing piece stood out amongst the collection.
BADGES OF GLORY
It’s difficult to separate war from the image of a soldier. Casablanca encapsulated this notion for FW23 with a surprisingly logical accessory: the medal. With references to wartime heroism, models cleared the runway in fits finished with badges of glory; gilded military regalia featured heavily within the collection, with blazers donning fringed gold epaulettes and yellow gold insignias spotted throughout. In particular, one look showcased a crisp white military suit adorned with a row of medals – dangling just below, we caught a glimpse of shiny pendants in the shapes of a rose, a heart and the Casablanca logo.
MOON BOOTS FOR THE SLOPES
On a lighter note to the show, après-ski-chic features popped up heavily throughout the collection in the form of all in one, skin-tight ski suits, goggle-like sunglasses with prism lenses and a handful of knitted balaclavas. But the showstopper? That was a pair of slope-ready moon boots, layered underneath the padding of a cream snowsuit. Featuring ribbed calf-length uppers and rubberised grippable soles, the boots were a solid entry into the accessory of the show roundup. With the colossal footwear trend still raging ahead for FW23 (you can thank AVAVAV for that) expect to see these pop up on the slopes – and the city streets.
GET THAT BAG, CASABLANCA
Casablanca’s bag offerings this season were quite frankly, unmatched. Their iconic checked print featuring traditional primary colour gridding embossed such an extended range of pieces this year, it was hard to pick a favourite. On one hand, bamboo-handled handbags added an infusion of playfulness to the collection, whilst on the other a heart shaped bag with a remixed version of Casablanca’s motif embossed across the front represented the ‘love, not war’ ethos Tajer championed aptly. A barrelled design was clutched alongside key looks and a beige canvas weekend suitcase even featured (perhaps a symbol of escapism from the disaster zone).
For FW23 however, it was clear that tote bag supremacy was here to stay. The tote dominated the runway this year for Casablanca, with variations of the structured leather bags – including a crocheted sibling – cropping up frequently throughout the show. The winner? A mustard framed, laptop-sized carrier tote finished with the collection’s signature multi-colour grid and ‘CASA’ emblazoned across the front.
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