Maison Sara Chraïbi Couture Fall 2023

For her sophomore show on the official couture schedule, Moroccan designer Sara Chraïbi looked to the Buraq, a winged horse with a female face said to transport prophets across great distances in Islamic tradition.

B ackstage, the designer said that after noticing its presence throughout Arabic and Muslim art, she imagined a contemporary descendant of that mythical equine. “What would she be, what would her journey be, what would she do?” she wondered.


In other words, Chraïbi’s muse is a woman who goes places, encountering architectural motifs and geometries she grew up with along the way. Out came a subtle collection delicately infused with these and that could strike a chord anywhere from Marrakesh to Melbourne.

Her hand at cuts also showed in the curved sleeves of coats, or in a collarless suit under a cape. Nods to caftans came in the form of breezy gowns. Hooded dresses had a monastic simplicity in their shape, but textiles were opulent nonetheless. Tasteful transparencies added a sensual note, exemplified in a caftan with a geometric structure on organza that turned solid from the waist down or a gown made of an embellished bodice from which were suspended lengths of chiffon.

While she reprised the strands of sabra — a silk extracted from aloe vera plants and traditionally used in Moroccan passementerie — seen last season, embroidery formed the bedrock of the collection, used sparingly to figure a starry sky on a translucent capelet or to figure a trompe-l’œil 3D effect on a bodice.

Later, a jacket had a hood embroidered with thousands of pearls that looked like an opulent coif of hair, while intricate bead- and threadwork created texture and heft to the opulent corset of the final gown that fanned out into a golden pleated skirt.

“Today, our times are so standardized that couture feels like a cocoon, a bubble of uniqueness,” said Chraïbi. “It’s important to preserve [that] because we need this exceptional, unique and personal touch because couture has no meaning except with the one who will wear it. It’s a dialogue with that person, a dress that will meet a moment.”

Shown in the serene garden of a Parisian high school, her silhouettes spoke of timeless grace and strength but also the kind of quiet — but not too quiet, it is couture after all — luxury of the here-and-now.

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