Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fez Fashion Day 2015

Fes Fashion Day, now in its third year, once again created a surreal experience by bringing modern women’s fashion, with cleavage, exposed legs, bare shoulders and figure-hugging forms to a place that is almost anti-fashion - clothing in the Medina of Fez is usually of the djellaba variety, often with flannel pyjamas peeking out from underneath. Vanessa Bonnin reports for The View From Fez...

Anan Sorsutham's creations

The Fes Fashion day was sponsored by the French Institute. Unsurprisingly the crowd was made up of many of the ex-patriot Fez community with attendees reading like a who’s who of Fez: Megumi Matsubara, photographer and artist; Rebecca Raft of Bouvier Jewellery; Tara Stevens and Rebecca Eve of Anajam homewares; event sponsor Guillame Binder of Hotel Sahrai; Cathy Bellafronto of Riad Laaroussa; Kleo Brunn of Dar Attajalli; Ibrahim and Ilmira Tidjani of the Sufi Brotherhood; radiant Huda Sey fresh off the plane from Paris with her just wed husband; and the Austrian embassy contingent, with Ambassador Wolfgang Angerholzer, his incredibly elegant wife Susanne and Claudia Schneeweiss.

Kleo Brunn of Dar Attajalli and Cathy Bellafronto of Riad Laaroussa
Austrian Ambassador Susanne Angerholzer and Huda Sey (wearing Moi Anan) of the American Fondouk

The Austrians were there to support their compatriot Juergen Christian Hoerl, who designed the dress worn by Eurovision 2014 winner Conchita Wurst. “We are really proud of him, he’s an upcoming star,” said Claudia Schneeweiss. “And did you know that the top covered with Swarovski crystals cost 40,000 euros?!”

The Fassi contingent seemed to be fans of Moi Anan, with two attendees wearing pieces from his last collection to the show. Anan Sorsutham, originally from Thailand but now living in Fez, has worked his way into the hearts of the locals through their stomachs, since opening his fashion boutique plus Thai restaurant in the Medina last year.

Outfit by popular designer Anan Sorsutham delivered a splash of colour

Anan said that combining his two careers, fashion and cooking, has created new ideas for his current collection. “For this collection I was inspired by fish, and especially the gills of the fish,” he explained. “When I am cooking, I found that the gills are beautiful so that was my inspiration. The other thing is with the draping, I wanted it to flow as in water, so the curves are like water - so all of this, the fish, the gills, the water was my inspiration.”

The Moi Anan collection opened the show, with a soundtrack that was also created by the designer - sounds of water pouring, splashing and waves breaking on a pebbled beach were melded with a breathing sound, exactly as a fish would breath under water through its gills.

Anan's beautifully tailored Thai silks

The clothes were beautifully tailored and made use of his trademark Thai silks, which were gathered and ruffled into fan shapes, and draped into soft folds.

“I liked the collection very much, the textiles, the draping,” said Susanne Angerholzer, "I loved the black one but one has to be very tall to look good in that! But as you could hear, there was a water element to the collection and I think the dresses reflected that perfectly.”

The second collection was by Elegance Feminine, a label created by two Moroccan women, Kaoutar and Hanane Maouhoub. It was nice to see some clothing for women actually designed by women and the Moroccan models seemed more relaxed and happy in these more traditional kaftans and dresses, featuring intricate embroidery and lots of sequins. That is not to say that there weren’t some risqué elements, with flashes of thigh and one dress that had a sheer black lace panel at the back of the skirt, allowing a glimpse of, well, everything!

“Those dresses were beautiful, they looked like princesses!” said Kleo Brunn. "The setting here, in the ornate Dar Batha, really suits the kaftans. Otherwise it is rather bizarre to be at a fashion show in the Medina of Fez!”

Ali Drissi designs in blue 

Ali Drissi’s show was next, and started out well with soundtrack that woke up the crowd and a striking collection that was all in blue. Three pieces that reworked the classic blue and white stripe nautical chic were wonderful and very wearable. He should have stopped there. However the music changed to classical piano and three more collections followed, one in black, one in salmon pink, one in white and a final wedding dress with gold and white Renaissance images on the skirt. There were about thirty outfits in all, ranging in style from tailored and edgy to ruffled and girly, and some impressive shoes thrown in as well. However it all became a bit of a blur with the confusing mix of styles and the consensus afterwards was that he should have stuck to one theme and edited the clothes extensively.

Ali Drissi’s  wedding dress detail

By this stage, the crowd was getting restless. As the same models were used for each designer, there were long gaps in-between the individual shows to allow time for clothes changing and re-styling. Some people left half way through, others used the intervals to catch up on gossip and exchange styling tips. In future if proceedings are going to be extend this way it would be prudent to serve people refreshments to save them from flagging. The number of outfits should also be restricted, as the final collection was also overly long and left many reeling from fashion fatigue.

Jurgen Christian Hoerl of JCHOERL, put on another extended runway show, featuring over thirty different ensembles that could have used some streamlining. There were some stand-out pieces, with sexy jumpsuits, structured shirts, leather dresses and fun, full-skirted numbers however there were also some underwhelming outfits and odd fabrics that didn’t seem to fall within a coherent theme for a collection. That said, he provided the biggest wow moment of the evening, not with the 40,000 euros crystal encrusted top, but with a minimal outfit of a sheer black skirt worn over a leotard with killer heels that would get you mobbed if worn in the Medina streets!

Wow moment - with killer heels upstaged the 40,000 Euro top (below)

Tara Stevens, of contemporary Moroccan homewares label Anajam, seemed to think it was a hometown win for adopted Fassi label Moi Anan. “The other designers needed a much tighter edit,” she said. “Anan was most interesting, his is an architectural and sculptural look which may appear difficult to wear but once you try it on it’s quite forgiving for normal body shapes as the structure covers a multitude of sins! He’s really working for the people and making wearable clothing which I’d like to see more of in fashion - huge congratulations to Anan, more designers should take a leaf out of his book.”

Until next year! Now for the Fassi fashionistas, it’s back to the djellaba…

Photos and text: Vanessa Bonnin
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