It may seem an unlikely friendship: Bouchra Jarrar, until recently artistic director of women’s collections at Lanvin and prior to that owner of her own couture house, and Éric Cantona, former football star, current actor and poet. The duo, both natives o
Bouchra Jarrar talks fashion, footie and Paris’ 14th with Éric Cantona
W*: How long have you known each other? Bouchra Jarrar: Two or three years? Éric Cantona: Yes. BJ: Éric’s wife Rachida [Brakni, an actress and singer] is one of my best friends. She follows my work and I follow hers. I was proud to have them both at my last show, because in fashion today you must invite this person or that person — who are doubtlessly wonderful people, but I don’t know them. I was lucky enough to have both of you. I was thinking – oh lˆ, Éric is going to be bored. ÉC: I never go to fashion shows, though it’s true that it is art, it’s magnificent. I loved it. But I thought it went too fast. They walk too fast. Because there are details we don’t see, and fashion, particularly Bouchra’s work, is full of details.
BJ: There is a sensitivity I discovered in Éric, who is like a king for the men in my family. His sensitivity touched me. Thanks to him I have learned about many artists. I recently visited Éric and Rachida in Lisbon [where they now live], and discovered Portuguese artists.
ÉC: Yes, there’s a magnificent artist called Gil Heitor Cortesão. He paints in reverse, on glass. It’s very impressive.
BJ: It must be a psychologically interesting way to see the world. In fact, the less I have on my walls, the better my brain works and creates. The emptier a space, the better I can breathe. I’m a little claustrophobic. I can appreciate the interior of a friend’s apartment or gallery. But I have to quickly find myself somewhere empty again because my brain – everything is so open, my ideas have been flowing for a few years.
ÉC: You wouldn’t want to put up a monochromatic painting by Yves Klein or something like that?
BJ: Maybe Klein or Daniel Buren, and I think it will be the biggest thing I’ll ever buy. It will take up a whole wall. I discovered Klein when I was an art history student in Nice. The city’s museum of modern art had just been built, a bookstore opened next to the museum, and I was a salesgirl. All summer during my lunch breaks I went to this museum that was practically empty, and I was surrounded by Klein paintings. His work with blue, with gold, with white and blue, or gold and blue — it’s magnificent. W*: Do you create in your head all the time? BJ: All the time. Right now there’s a part of me that’s creating. When I sketch or work È
‘There is a sensitivity I discovered in Éric, who is like a king for the men in my family’
in three dimensions with fabric on a Stockman mannequin, there’s a part of my brain that works on the volume, another composing silhouettes, another part already on the final details, and so on. The brain is like a little factory, where everything is programmed. It’s fluid, it’s Charlie Chaplin’s
Modern Times. It’s tiring. When I work I need all my positive energy, because I work in a holistic way each time.
W*: What’s your starting point for each new collection?
BJ: It comes from what the last collection left in my head, which is a bit like a strainer. There are things that pour through and others that stay. Everything that remains is there so that we can pursue it in some way. That’s what we call a creator’s signature; it’s bringing something new every six months – or in fact every three months – while keeping one’s own signature, yet never repeating oneself or losing people’s interest.
ÉC: That’s what it is to be an artist. There are film directors who make very different films but always on the same subject. There’s a thing you express that’s strong – that comes from deep inside, and all your life there will be something of you in it.
BJ: Yes, the essence of an artist or a creator is to have a vision. W*: Are you a football fan? BJ: Of course. Growing up, football was sacred in my family. My little sister and I prepared our brothers’ bags. They came back from sports and we emptied their bags and did the laundry. Every evening when there was football on TV, they would stick us in front of the screen so we couldn’t clown around or make noise in the house. So we were punished for – I don’t know how long. ÉC: 90 minutes. BJ: But in the end we ended up loving it. My dad and brothers used to yell, ‘Oh Canto, go, go, Canto, oui’, when there was a goal. W*: Éric, are you still acting? ÉC: I’m doing different things. I shot a film in Croatian. I don’t speak Croatian or understand it, so I worked on it in French, then learned it phonetically. I had to be able to say it without thinking about it. It drove me crazy, for three months I was talking to myself – in the bathtub, the car, on the train, the plane. Rachida would say, ‘Stop talking to yourself.’ So I said, never again will I work on a thing like that. And now I’m going to shoot a film in Chinese. So it turns out that in fact I loved the work. It was a great challenge.
W*: You both grew up in the south of France, in modest homes. Did fashion seem like another world?
BJ: Fashion is something completely accessible – you can buy it or you can just look at it, and it becomes a culture. I grew up in fashion solely through an aesthetic sense and the idea that things were possible. I never asked myself too many questions, I always worked. People around me would always say, ‘Be careful, it’s complicated’. But I didn’t listen. I never weighed myself down with principles, not even positive ones, because people can put you in a box. And then you’re afraid to be disillusioned. What I really want to say, especially to young people, is don’t box yourself in. Your eyes are made for looking far and wide. ∂
‘Fashion is completely accessible. You can buy it or just look at it, and it becomes a culture’
09 10 10 Simone de Beauvoir’s plaque ‘De Beauvoir lived here, in one of these big lofts from the 1930s. Every morning on my run I go by this plaque, and I love to say hello.’ 11 Film director Agnès Varda’s home ‘She lives on rue Daguerre and has long...