“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” – Marianne Williamson

We interviewed Artsi Ifrach, founder and creative director of MAISON ARTC. Together we discussed sustainability, creativity, and his personal vision of fashion, as well as future and ongoing projects. MAISON ARTC is currently on display until April 16, 2023 in Africa Fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. In the section devoted to North Africa, we find The Trench (2021), a cape specially designed for the exhibition on the fabric of which are inscribed, in addition to the protective motif of Hamsa’s hands, the words of the poem “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson.

Courtesy of Maison Artc

Retracing your past, when was born your interest in the world of fashion and when you decided to want to create your own project ?

I have always been fascinated by beauty and its forms, by the intrinsic value of fashion. I have been working in the field of styling for 20 years, for me it was fundamental to find a meeting point between my passion and the beauty of different cultures. Sustainability is the key to everything: it has become a topic trend for relatively recently but I have always adopted a sustainable vision of fashion. I think that vintage adds an extra value, because it contains a story and a greater human value than what we have today. I’m a designer. I think there’s a fundamental problem since we associate the word “brand” with something industrial, in the fashion industry. But fashion, as I conceive it, has nothing to do with industry and a designer is not a brand: indeed, when these two terms come together reduce the value of art and human value, something from which I dissociate myself. 

Courtesy of Maison Artc

Your identity and ideas translate into a unique piece of clothing. Who is your audience ?

I don’t work for “everyone,” creating something that fits everyone. I know my value and even the buyer knows the investment he makes, just like a piece of art. The Industry often goes against fashion and its real value, that’s why you have to give people a way to understand. Besides, art is also an investment and so I want it to be for my collection.

What is the idea behind Maison Artc and where do you get the most inspiration ?

It literally means “Artsi’s house,” which is my home. When I invite and welcome people to my home it is as if I invited them into my universe: hospitality, memories, intimacy… so my works. Through my photographs, fabrics and everything I design I represent what is important to me and my culture. All of this has to be something emotional, something that stays in the gift that we decide to give or give to someone else. In today’s idea of creativity there is often an emotional component missing, but for me it is fundamental that it binds to a memory and that recalls something deep and important for the viewer. This also happens when I work with vintage: it is a reminder of memories from the past and memory that is reflected in the garment, a link between past and present. Fashion is a “second skin” that too often reflects only our economic condition, while what I want in my inventiveness is the creativity and emotion that give much more information than the social status of the person or brand. 

Courtesy of Maison Artc

Each collection reflects your ability to transform traditional fabrics into wearable artworks. How does your creative process come to life in the individual creations ?

I just follow my inspiration. Usually what inspires me to create is when I see the pieces of fabric or when I watch a movie or something that evokes recollections from my memory. Every morning I arrive in the atelier, where two collaborators wait for me: one takes care of the tailoring and the other of patterns and embroideries. We work together as a family and each has its own task, it is as if we prepared a dish of cuisine all together. We compare and create using new materials, every day is like a surprise. This is also why I do not follow a specific creative process and so it is easier to give value to the collections, which are unique and unrepeatable and do not follow the seasonality. When the garment is ready I observe it through the photographs that I take and from here I can guess the story that will tell the next.

Courtesy of Maison Artc

The connection with the city where you currently live is closely interwined to your research. Tell us more about Marrakech’s role in your artistic production.

Marrakech is the essence of my work and creativity. I lived in Amsterdam, Paris… but what happens in Marrakech does not happen in other western capitals more known to the fashion industry. There is not all that stress and need to be always “on point” on the trends and events of the moment. We are not afraid to stay out of the “fashion” context. It’s just a matter of time passing in a completely different way, longer too. We have sun and culture in the middle of the street, we don’t have to go into a museum to see art… We have the Medina which is a real open-air museum, with all its inhabitants practicing ancient arts on the streets without the need to feel trendy or feel “pretty” cool.

Courtesy of Maison Artc

What projects do you currently have besides Maison Artc ?

In June I will reach what for me is a milestone: I am preparing the exhibition of my photographs and art pieces at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a dream come true for me. But I also have other projects work in Progress, because I always love being active and working on something. I like to surprise myself with things I don’t know, and then I also like to surprise people who follow me. I am convinced that if you put love and passion in what you do you can inspire others a lot in doing good. We are only individuals, but if we respected each other more, all working together and without the fear of showing our feelings, it would be a better world.