It's official. In December, French fashion's governing body, the Chambre Syndicale, granted Bouchra Jarrar an haute couture appellation. This was an upgrade from her guest-member status and a seriously big deal. She's secured a place in couture's history books, joining the ranks of pre-war women designers like Chanel, Vionnet, Grès, and Schiaparelli. It's been more than thirty years since a woman was named a grande couturière. Thirty!
And so there was good reason for the newfound swagger in her exuberantly embellished jackets and gilets. "J'ai des oiseaux," she said backstage. "I have birds." And she meant it. Jarrar used ivory feathers last season, but here they were packed closely together in natural shades of brown and black or were dyed a gorgeous sapphire blue. There were probably more colors in this show's plumes than in all her previous collections combined. More crystals, too. They encrusted the front, back, and sleeves of a Perfecto, or, more subtly, were tucked among the long "shard" sequins of a bolero jacket, only now and then catching the light. Jarrar was just as attentive to her tailleurs. A devastatingly precise blazer and redingotes (with sleeves and without) were made from custom-dyed handwoven threads. They gleamed.
On the couture runways, glory tends to come from gowns destined for the red carpet, or maybe a royal wedding. Jarrar, a little like Coco Chanel before her, is obsessive about clothes for everyday, unapologetically so. This season, there were military flares and tuxedo trousers that made a persuasive case for pleats. Glittering accolades? Meh. Ask any woman, there are few things more glorious than a great-fitting pair of pants.