Artsi Ifrach of MAISON ARTC Creates Fashion the Way It Should Be, That of Memories and Dreams

Artsi Ifrach_thestyletitle_interview

Artsi Ifrach is a unique breed of a creative and a most fascinating one. The Fashion Trust Arabia winner is a self-taught designer, creative director, and photographer producing vivid, unexpected images that captivate and intrigue. Above all though, he is a true artist dedicated to exploring the deepest of his psyche to deliver his perception of beauty, and in it, truth. As the founder and creative director of MAISON ARTC, he ingeniously translates his very personal universe into a form of art that encompasses fashion, culture, politics, and humor. In an era where everyone is quoting references, Ifrach is quoting himself searching the “thin line between the ridiculous and the sublime”. Let’s meet him.

How did you first start being interested in fashion?

I think that having a passion for aesthetics and for fashion is something like a sixth sense, something you are born with. It progresses with time until you begin to understand that this is what actually you want to do in life, to create. For me, it’s something very natural. I don’t really make an effort to become creative. It’s not something that I have to think about, it just comes naturally the same way as I speak. Creativity is something that you are born with, like breathing or the ability to talk. It’s a gift you cannot be without or exist otherwise.

So for you, creativity is something inherent?

I think yes. I have been a creative person since I remember myself. I first started as a ballet dancer, then I worked as a salesperson but I felt very creative and started to create pieces myself. It was something really natural for me. That’s how it all started for me.

What inspires you?

Life inspires me. Beauty also. I don’t feel I have any references to anything else because honestly, I try not to be aware of it. I try to be really open-minded and at the same time away from many things, I’m inspired by life. I’m inspired by culture. I’m inspired by the beautiful things that move me. And I think I’m inspired by memories a lot.

How do you work with memories? Is there a creative process?

My work is mostly one-of-a-kind pieces that are based on and built from vintage pieces. I love pre-loved fashion; when you touch a vintage piece, it has lived inside it, It has traveled through time and memories. It’s not something that you have to create and it’s suddenly new. What I’m trying to do is to create a new memory, keep it alive and move it, to a better future. So I take care of it. I make it beautiful, alive, and valuable again. The same way as life functions.

You come from a very rich cultural heritage. How does it define your aesthetics?

My heritage has played a prominent role in my work. Heritage is knowledge passing through generations and eventually arriving in me. My culture has probably inspired me the most. it’s the colors, the patterns, the techniques, it’s the artists and so many things implemented in my own work. I try to preserve my culture and the heritage of my country, Morocco in my work and I think it shows.

You combine those references with modern references; sometimes with an underlying sense of irony…

Humor is integral to my work and it comes effortlessly. I don’t consciously experiment much, I’m just experiencing things and allowing them to happen by themselves. I don’t even think when I create, and I definitely don’t let doubts intervene in the work process. The minute you doubt something, you show a weakness, a lack of confidence, or emotions that don’t have to be a part of the creative process at all. I follow my intuition and let my work do the talking.

Your images have a very intense sense of freedom and often feature political references. Are those part of the same process?

We live in a globalized world and politics are present everywhere. Still, my work isn’t political in the sense of going pro or against something. It’s political in the sense that it allows you to express your deepest and truest emotions. It’s through beauty that we can fix a lot of things that are happening in politics. And we don’t necessarily have to shout or demonstrate. I can create a picture or a piece, and just by showing it, it’ll already make a strong point I also believe we misunderstand culture in many ways. This globalized world refuses to understand individual cultures. I’m not sure that freedom is something global, I think we are abusing the word. Freedom is something very private, and it should stay private. You can be free in a different way, and even in places that people consider restrictive. A lot of people consider that since I live in Morocco, a Muslim country, I’m not free. And they are completely wrong. If you create something beautiful, it’s like speaking your own mind.

What’s the process behind the creation of an image?

I don’t have a process; I live between two points of a journey. I am neither in the beginning nor at the end of it. In fact, I don’t want to arrive at the end of my journey and I don’t want to be at the beginning of it. I want to be in the middle. My whole career has been a journey with many stations and each one takes to me to the next one. My whole process is always based on the evolution of the self; I’m growing up and my work also grows. I think a lot of people are busy arriving at one destination and then busy getting to another. I’m living between those two points. The aim is always for my work to evolve, to become better, more precise, and more interesting.

The more I grow, the more I invest in great vintage pieces I can use in my work. Right now I may be using only 20% of my creative force but I am a one-man show, so I have to wear many hats during the day. I have to be a salesperson, I have to be a stylist, I have to be a designer, I have to be a businessman and at the end of the day still remain an artist. I’m considered a fashion designer, but I’m not. I’m a designer experimenting with culture. I don’t play with fashion because, for me, fashion is a trend thing that will always change and will pass very quickly. So I don’t see the value in it. In my creative process, it’s permanent that matters. That’s why my photography is very important to me. My pieces are unique because I’m not trying to be part of the fashion industry. I just try to make fashion in a way that is how fashion should be, closer to art than industry.

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