Bouchra Jarrar receives Officer of Arts and Letters Insignia
Only in France could the award of merit to a distinguished fashion designer, Bouchra Jarrar, turn into a political paean to French Republican politics.
“It’s not by hazard that we are united here in the Palais Galliera, one of the first museums that you Bouchra visited in Paris. The incandescence of French elegance and a temple of fashion,” said the former socialist Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay in her homage to Jarrar before pinning onto her black silk tuxedo jacket the green cross Insignia of an Officer of Arts and Letters.
Last year, the same museum mounted a major retrospective of designs by Jeanne Lanvin, the oldest existing French fashion house still operating, where Jarrar is artistic director.
“Your story is a French story. A republican story I would say. Because it is based on merit, work and the transmission of ideas. Our French Republic adores nothing more than a story of a person who comes from abroad, and then honours it and serves it,” added Azoulay, who like the couturier is the child of Moroccan emigrants to France.
Born in Cannes, Jarrar began studying in the Paris public school of fashion, the Ecole Duperré, in the late eighties. She went on to become the head of the studio of Balenciaga under the reign of Nicolas Ghesquière, before stints at Scherrer and Christian Lacroix. In 2010, she created her own fashion house, immediately winning acclaim for her brilliant cutting and ability to combine elements of menswear – mannish pants and biker jackets – into thoroughly chic work-wear for women. In effect, Jarrar represents a very definite idea of French chic – an assemblage of effortless style and easy nonchalance with a tincture of sexual frisson.
Joining Jarrar at the ceremony were another former minister, Christiane Taubira, actress and film director Nicole Garcia, Galliera director Olivier Saillard, and Madame Figaro editor-in-chief Anne Florence Schmidt.
“One never expects to receive this sort of recognition. Simply because we do not chase after it… I love my metier, and have a huge amount of luck to realize this dream. To imagine a world of fashion. I spent my life in apprenticeships, and was lucky so many people gave me their confidence,” said Jarrar, dressed in cream crepe pants, silk shirt and sculpted tuxedo jacket.
“I’d like to thank you from the depth of my heart. I decided my own route. And my unique motor has been to celebrate life; and to be free. Now, let’s toast life,” she smiled.
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