Hello, again, Maft readers. Our mood for this new year is a fighter, fearless and daring in the name of fashion, art, and creativity.
We were inspired by our collaboration shoot on New Year's Eve at Mooja store alongside the designer Farès Cheraït where we celebrated his brand-new project Life After Life Creative Lab, co-founded with Imed Rebai and Jaye, Karim El Atrouss. The shoot was a subtle teaser to finally introduce our tunisian designer of the month, Farès Cheraït .
On the outside, Farès is a multidisciplinary, proactive designer known for his originality and storytelling in his creations that shows his rock and rebel spirit. His use of leather and its characteristics have earned him distinction in the world of high-end ready-to-wear. He’s been providing Mooja as a space of expression where mingles artists, stylists, designers, and craftsmen of art worth him the success of several projects.
I visited the Mooja store this past weekend, and i was welcomed warmly by Farès and his PR Manager, Imene Klilib. The store was beyond my expectations, this funky modern concept store in the trendy street of Mutuelle Ville is alive with the collections from the Life After Life collaborative collection that's been recently held for the public.
We sat down in the middle of his open space atelier to bring you the scoop from the inside.
Who is Farès Cheraït of the past and present?
‘I am half German and half Tunisian. I grew up in Tunis until I was 17 then I went to France to continue my studies there. I came back to Tunisia to study business because of family pressure. Then in 1998, I went to London to study fashion.'
How did your journey with Fashion start? Why choosing Fashion specifically as an art form for you to express?
‘Growing up, I believed I was a very stylish boy. I always loved dressing up and experimenting with different styles. I wanted to create memorable looks for myself as a way of expression.
After quitting business school, I’ve realized that fashion is a deeper passion for me than just styling myself. That’s when I decided to enroll in London College of Fashion as my first step into making a career out of a boy’s hobby.’
Tell us about your studies in London, did it influence your style?
‘My education in London was fruitful. I liked their learning style a lot. I learned about Art and Architecture. They taught us the basics and the techniques, and then they gave us total freedom to express and experiment with what we liked. I learned a lot from it and i had a good time. It was a very diverse and dynamic place, cosmopolitan, but I wasn't really influenced by the culture and city. I kept to my rock identity and style, but it definitely opened my mind more. And the weather was too gloomy for me, honestly.’
We heard that you had training with the designer Azzedine Alaïa, how was it?
‘It was a wonderful experience. At first, I was the little intern who got only the small tasks and none of the responsibility or work. I was frustrated for the first 2 weeks. I wanted to be more involved. Then one day, Mr. Azzedine came into the atelier, and he told me to step it up and be proactive, so I got annoyed at him then we had a chat about what i was feeling. He decided then for me to be his protégé and included me in his exhibition at Guggenheim Soho about the retrospective of AA. I had the opportunity to work with him with exposure to his vision and expertise. I was very committed, and I loved every moment of it. I was able to talk to models and designers and learn. It was the best experience an intern can ask for.'
Farès also went to Paris in 2002 to intern with Loannis GUIA, a greek designer, where he was able to develop his skills and experience. He was then an assistant for the famous french clothing designer Olivier Lapidus here in Tunis, where he was able to take more responsibility in his career and see the ready-to-wear clothing industry. He also worked together with him on his Collection capsule Lapidus x Kookaï. In 2004, he organized fashion shows for his own collections in Beirut, Tunis, Tripoli, and Ibiza when he launches into the ready-made industry and creates the brand ‘Berbers’. After that experience, he decided to stay and launch his career in Tunis with the Berbers collection, and in 2008, he opened his atelier in La Marsa and launched his brand holds its own name Farès Cheraït where it's showcased in Tunis firstly and then in Sicily to New York.
Berbers Collection - 2009 - Credit photos: Vincent De Marly
Walk me through your creative process when creating a collection. Do you follow a specific vision?
‘I don't have a specific vision that I work towards with my projects. Each time, I follow a different process in order to have more creative freedom of expression.’
You’ve been doing so many projects in parallel, what’s the rush?
‘That's just who I am. I am proactive and love multitasking. Keeping busy is what makes me feel alive and motivates me. Routine kills me, I live for adrenaline. I love meeting artists, designers and sharing visions with them, and collaborating. It gives me another perspective and an opportunity to move away from my style.’
As a designer, how do you see yourself participating in improving the Tunis Fashion Industry?
‘I believe change can happen with Life After Life. We change the industry by creating sustainable and upcycled collections through collaborations with different designers and artists. It improves by trying to inspire people, by sharing ideas, creating collections that contain social message, and contribute in protecting the environment.’
Farès was inspired by the concept store Colette and decided to open “Mooja” as a space that offers expression for many local creators, among them underground artists, stylists, and designers often in need of exhibition space, especially after the cultural explosion that followed the 2011 revolution.
Tell us about the Mooja store? Why did you launch Mooja in parallel to your career as a fashion designer?
' It's been five years already since I launched Mooja. It was in 2017, and I wanted to create a place of exchange, of lifestyle where there is culture and music. Mooja is a space for people to shop freely and where they can find any brand and product that would interest them, from clothes to cosmetics. Back then, there weren’t many concept stores around, and i wanted to create a community. I built the atelier next to it for transparency, so whenever people come around they can also have a glimpse at behind the scenes and how we create the clothes and even offer custom services. It creates authenticity and a bond with the client.’
Farès also designed and showcased the ‘Black Dress’ at Mooja, who’s an event that reunites in each edition 7 Tunisian fashion designers to create the unique black dress of the year. Among Mooja’s latest projects, there has been a collaboration with the calligraphist artist Shoof and Farès Cheraït exhibited in october 2021.
The designer’s career reflects his taste for eccentricity and provocation of his rock and rebel spirit. His technique of folding fabrics and cutting patterns are reflected in his collection 𝗟𝗜𝗙𝗘 𝗔𝗙𝗧𝗘𝗥 𝗟𝗜𝗙𝗘, a new path for him that’s in life with his direction to second-hand fashion. We can see that each piece is enhanced by its unique style alongside its exceptional eco-design approach.
Farès Cheraït at Mooja Store
Tell us about your latest creation, Life AFTER Life?
‘ Life After Life is a creative lab, a collective of a sort for designers to collaborate, experiment, and create a second life to clothes through upcycling. We are three founding members. There’s Imed who’s more involved in the industry and in techniques, Karim comes from street art and has a collection too. And then there’s me.’
What do you have planned for the new year? What can we expect from you?
' We’ll be doing more collaborations in the future at Life After Life creative lab. It is an ongoing project. I will be working on a personal collection as a comeback. We have a charitable action with One Day One Dream on a piece from the collection, then we'll auction it off and the funds collected will be sent to help children with heart failure at El Rabta Hospital. Also, there is something very interesting in the works in Paris; hopefully, soon we can make an announcement, but now I don't want to jinx it.’
What lessons did you learn along the way as a designer?
'I learned to stand out and be creative among the many copycats and followers around. I learned to stop reading social media comments because it's useless. Also, to be more involved and aware of what's happening around me in the world.'
What do you advise the new generation?
'I like this new generation. Actually, they are very stylish and have a clearer sense of identity than before. They are so privileged to have the technology and the internet. In my school days, we had to run to the libraries as soon as we got an assignment, or else we won’t have anything to grab for our research. I advise them to use that privilege, learn and research. They shouldn’t give into trends much and aspire for originality and toward a sustainable, eco-friendly fashion.'
We ended the interview with a tour of the showroom while Farès gave me the inspiration and vision behind each unique piece from the Life After Life collection. He showed me a piece that was close to his heart: ‘Rachid x Mick’, a jacket that he designed as an homage for his friend Rachid Taha who died and was a fan of The song ‘Rock The Casbah by The Clash’, whom Fares met their lead guitarist Mick Jones.
A true rock and roll fan who we’ll be keeping our eyes on until the next revelations.