The fashion industry can add another young promising talent to its ranks. His name: Karim Adduchi, born in Morocco (1988). Five years ago Karim moved to Amsterdam to pursue his education in the fashion department, at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. For his graduation the fashion designer and visual artist designed an Amazigh inspired fashion collection called, She Knows Why the Caged Bird Sings. His unique collection went viral and reached worldwide media headlines. In a few days, Karim Adduchi’s She Knows Why the Caged Bird Sings installation opens at WOW. al.arte.magazine hooked up with Karim for an interview.
Both of your parents were also in fashion. Could you tell us more about that?
My parents were clothiers at my hometown Imzouren, my mother use to make clothes for women, and my father for men. My mother still does. I grew up next to the sounds of a sewing machine, but without the connotations that the Western culture has about fashion. It was all about being practical and modest. With time, that esthetic they had became an inspiration for me. And I learned a lot from them just by looking at them working and not asking.
Have they inspired you?
Making clothes for me was a routine at home. From there came my fear to make clothes because you have to face your memories, and you don’t want to disappoint your heritage or costumes coming from your parents! It inspired me every moment of every day at the same time.
What made you start designing clothes?
By accident, my plan was always to keep working making art, or trying to do so. What really made me to start designing was to face my fear to make clothes. I was always afraid to face the same profession my parents had. Just out of respect for it!
You went to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Why Amsterdam? Did you have a special reason?
Just wanted to challenge myself moving to a country where I didn’t speak the language or know anyone to feel the same my parents did when they move to Spain from Morocco for me.
What does your first collection She Knows Why the Caged Bird Sing say to the audience?
That question has to be answered by the audience. For me it means a translation of my perception of my own nostalgia for my culture. My purpose was to get to know my roots to become a better designer, and what drove me deep into the subject was to change the idea and perception of Morocco that society sometimes has, for political reasons. My goal was clearly to show what’s hidden in Morocco.
What does the title She Knows Why the Caged Bird Sings refer to?
The title is inspired by Maya Angelou’s novel, in which she uses positive education to educate her daughter. I found it related to the positive energy that Berber women bring to the education of their children by teaching them that being positive is a talent that can be taught, a kind of knowledge that comes from intuitive human feeling and not from modern education.
For your first collection you used rugs and traditional carpets. That is not very common, why?
Tradition is tradition for a reason. But it’s also scary to transform tradition into modernity. I wanted to take a risk by using the symbolism of a culture to create a bridge to connect with universal audience.
Could you tell us more about the fabrics you used and why you have chosen to work with those?
I chose fabric made in my hometown. The reason I chose them is because I knew doing that will give me fear to touch them, cut them, manipulate them. Because I will always see a personal relation to it! But I also know it will be a challenge to face transforming them into something different while preserving their nature.
You like to challenge yourself (going to Spain, the use of special fabrics). You like facing fear. Where does that come from?
I like seeking fear because it keeps me going, and when you have a dream there is nothing that stands in the way. The reason I do it is to reach a dream.
The Moroccan woman, or should I say the Berber woman, what does she mean to you? Do you get your inspiration from her? And why is “she” so special for you?
Just because my mother is a Berber Moroccan women.
How do you translate the Berber or the Moroccan traditional woman into a very expressive collection? Could you tell us more about that?
Out of empathy for their position…I find it intriguing how these women have their power by the awareness of themselves. There is beauty in the strength that it takes to hide yourself. I have respect for that, because I always say that it is much easier to show than to hide. In this situation these women have a kind of power in themselves that sometimes western culture ignores, we see them like powerless women. But they are much stronger than we think because of their duality. In the collection I try to show that duality, where I use one and the same material to come out both strong and fragile, while maintaining the nature of the fabric. I wanted to show strength that comes from fragility, and fragility coming from strength! In the end that duality that women have, I translate that somehow in the fabrics and the collection. Some pieces of the collection show girls hidden inside a cage, but there is beauty inside. This topic takes time and knowledge, I’m still researching it for upcoming projects.
Do you feel free to design anything you would like? Are there any restrictions?
The only restrictions I could have are the ones I create myself. Being a visual artist means to keep your mind open for anything that could come to be translated in an expression. That is where the freedom to create stems from!
Have you received any criticism because of this paradox?
I have noticed some people in the audience didn’t really agree with me using Berber culture as an inspiration, and allowing some girls to show their shoulders in the collection. I take all the criticism that comes as something constructive. But yes, I did receive some negative feedback, with religious connotations.
Do you have a message that you would like to spread with your art?
Could you tell us more about your upcoming projects?
My upcoming project is to exhibit fashion in the form of installations, as art works, and maybe even combine all together in one! I started my research for my next collection, that’s why I’m travelling to Tanger in January. I’m also working on giving lectures in Morocco and travel to my hometown to teach drawing lessons to children in difficult situations. I want to contribute the best I can to education. Between building up exhibitions I’m travelling with the collection to show it in different countries, and take part in collaborative art projects. I’m enjoying learning and doing what I love!