Fashion today is always searching for the new, the unique, the fresh. It is the engine that feeds the social media frenzy around influencers and fashion week, as well as the light speed turnover of styles on the high street.
“We are so quick now, so dismissive,” says designer Artsi Ifrach. “When we see someone wearing something, we don’t have to ask where they got it from because we already know, we even know how much it cost. Where is the mystery? Where is the surprise?”
Mystery and surprise are at the heart of Ifrach’s extraordinary line Maison ARTC. The designer uses vintage fabrics sourced from around the world to create that rare thing – truly one-of-a-kind fashion.
“Everything in the collection is unique,” he explains. “When a client buys something it belongs only to them. There will never be another one. That is rare in this business.”
Ifrach credits his unusual take on fashion to his circuitous route into the fashion industry. Born in Jerusalem to Moroccan and Israeli parents, he was a ballet dancer for 20 years before moving to Amsterdam to start his career in fashion.
“I am untrained, a complete autodidact,” he says. “I think it was very natural for me. I always loved clothes, and after ballet I was searching for something to let me continue to express myself.”
He spent many years in France, showing at Paris Couture Week, before moving to Marrakech eight years ago.
“I really enjoyed my time in Paris, but I needed to take myself out from the world of fashion. I see the industry in a different way. I only work with vintage fabrics. I scour flea markets on my travels, and then everything I find, I bring back to the artisans in my atelier in Marrakech. It’s like restoring pieces in museums, but we do it with fabrics.”
The resulting pieces are exquisitely tailored tapestries of cultures, textures and colours, garments that blend the familiar and the unfamiliar to totally new effect.
“What I think I’m doing is fixing memories,” says Ifrach. “By using something filled with memories, I’m transforming it into something new and making it alive again, so culture can go forward into the future and not just stay frozen in the past. It’s a new sense of respect.”
Maison ARTC does not create clothes for those seeking to hide in the crowd. Pieces are alive with ruffles and lace, slogans and drama, trimmings and tassels.
“The market is over exposed with minimalism and basics,” shrugs Ifrach. “I believe that when you design clothes they actually have to look designed, that’s what I’m trying to do.”
His relatively new home of Marrakech is central to his creative vision.
“I’ve only lived here for eight years but I believe that my DNA as a designer is Moroccan,” he says. “When you see and feel my pieces, you know that someone actually made them, not a machine. Before fashion was called fashion, we called it culture – it came from the people, how they dressed, their uniforms, their needs, their style. And that spirit is still visible on the streets in Marrakech. It’s still a world that functions in an old time, you feel the culture is living in the street, it’s still raw, human, artisan. This drama, it inspires me every day.”
Please note that Maison ARTC is only available in store. Please email us to buy.