Stepping away from the glitz and glam of bridalwear, Nisrine Harakat is the Lebanese-Moroccan designer redefining bridal codes with her debut bridal collection for Maison Takarah.
Inspired by her multicultural upbringing, Harakat has a strong relationship with art and craftsmanship. “I was taught the skills of couture and pattern cutting at a very young age by my grandmother,” she explains in an exclusive interview with Savoir Flair. Drawing on her strong fascination for timeless beauty and elegance, Nisrene views fashion as art. “I wanted to create something that you will be able to wear today and 20 years down the line. I see fashion like a piece of furniture or a painting. Fashion should be timeless.”
Harakat ventured into the creative world with her sister Sara through Harakat Studio, a creative platform which pays homage to Arab nostalgia. She then went on to work for the likes of Elie Saab and Isabel Marant.
Through Maison Takarah – which is her last name spelled backwards – Harakat wants to challenge societal gender norms. “I feel like that’s the environment I grew up in. I’ve always questioned my identity. As a woman in a predominantly masculine world, I had to pay attention to the way I dressed, particularly in crowded and popular areas. While working with men, I had to dress and behave like a man to be respected. However, I’m also very feminine. I wanted to translate that into my brand’s identity.”
Inspired by shock value, Maison Takarah’s debut collection, titled ‘Chapter One’, is timeless, powerful, and poetic. “The Maison Takarah woman feels like she is going to marry herself. She’s independent, cool, yet elegant. She doesn’t need a man.” Influenced by masculine and feminine codes, the Maison Takarah bride is androgynous yet sensual. “I wanted to take the time to research and understand the market before stepping into this new world”, she explains.
“Brides today are much more independent and powerful. The codes are changing and women no longer want to adhere to societal values. They want to be themselves. The problem I see with many brides these days is that they do not look like themselves. They are so far from who they are in real life – wearing super heavy dresses, for example — but it’s time to break the codes. It’s time to break what’s normal. It’s time to look at ourselves and redefine who we want to be and not who society expects us to be.”
As such, Harakat’s vision for Maison Takarah is to create a new concept for contemporary brides. A Maison Takarah wedding gown is a sustainable investment piece. “I want the Maison Takarah bride to wear her dress to different events after her wedding day. I wanted to create a piece that will stay alive. I believe that’s the future of bridal. Why keep it stored in a special room where it has no use?”, she asks.
Maison Takarah is a journey through beauty and craftsmanship, where certain elements such as a long train and draping are part of the brand’s DNA. ‘Chapter One’ is best described as exciting. “When I started designing the collection while in confinement, I was going through a range of different emotions; however the predominant one was excitement. I was excited for this new journey and I wanted to translate that through my pieces.”
The appreciation for minimalism is also evident, where simple fabrics such as silk and crepe are used to create beautiful, accessible pieces. “I love to collect fabrics. They actually take up most of the space in my apartment. I’m always hunting down the best available materials across Paris and through my travels.”
The brand currently operates through made-to-measure orders and is entirely run by Harakat in Paris. As for the future, she hopes she is able to expand her offerings and maybe one day move back to Lebanon. “With everything happening in Lebanon right now, I feel like the country needs us, the young generation. So who knows?”