Casablanca by designer Charaf Tajer among 2020 LVMH Prize semi-finalists

Casablanca designer Charaf Tajer is among the 2020 LVMH Prize semi-finalists.
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Updated 15 February 2020

Casablanca by designer Charaf Tajer among 2020 LVMH Prize semi-finalists

DUBAI: In December, LVMH opened its applications for the LVMH Prize 2020 for Young Fashion Designers, and on Friday announced the 20 semi-finalists, who were selected by a panel of experts that include everyone from Gigi Hadid to LVMH Prize founder Delphine Arnaut.

Among the 20 chosen semi-finalists who could be the next Marine Serre, Jacquemus or Grace Wales Bonner, is Casablanca founder—and Pigalle co-founder— Charaf Tajer.

The menswear, Paris-based label is known for its ultra-wearable clothing made out of luxe silks and cashmeres that is inspired by Tajer’s Moroccan roots. His debut runway during Paris Men’s Fashion Week in 2018 was a love letter to his parents who met while working side by side in a clothing atelier in the fashion district of Casablanca.



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Tajer and the other designers will then be shortlisted into a pool of eight potential winners, after presenting their collections before a designer jury of international fashion experts, including Maria Grazia Chiuri, Nicolas Ghesquière and Marc Jacobs at the LVMH Paris showroom in March during Paris Fashion Week.

The grand prize will be given on June 5 at the Louis Vuitton Foundation, with the winner receiving a $325,000 prize, a “one-year mentorship provided by a dedicated LVMH team, in all fields of expertise” and the chance to work at one of the many prestigious brands under the LVMH umbrella for a year, which includes Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Dior and more.

Film review: Great storytelling makes for fascinating watch in Netflix’s ‘Yeh Ballet’

“Yeh Ballet” is no rags-to-riches story, but one of sheer fortitude and a bit of luck. (Supplied)
Updated 24 February 2020

Film review: Great storytelling makes for fascinating watch in Netflix’s ‘Yeh Ballet’

CHENNAI: Sooni Taraporevala gained immense fame by writing for Mira Nair’s films, such as “The Namesake,” “Mississippi Masala” and the Oscar-nominated “Salaam Bombay.” In 2009, Taraporevala stepped behind the camera to helm a small movie called “Little Zizou” about the Parsi community. It was a hit, and three years ago, she took up the camera again to create a virtual reality short documentary about two boys from Mumbai’s slums who became renowned ballet dancers. 

Taraporevala converted her documentary into a full-length feature, “Yeh Ballet,” for Netflix, and the work, though with a somewhat documentary feel, is fascinating storytelling — a talent we have seen in her writings for Nair. 

Happily, “Yeh Ballet” is no rags-to-riches story (of the kind “Gully Boy” was), but one of sheer fortitude and a bit of luck. The film begins with a breathtaking aerial shot of the Arabian Ocean on whose shores Mumbai stands — an element that points toward the director’s background as a photographer. 

The film chronicles the lives of Nishu and Asif Beg. (Supplied) 

A story inspired by true events, “Yeh Ballet” chronicles the lives of Nishu (Manish Chauhan) and Asif Beg (newcomer Achintya Bose). The two lads are spotted by a ballet master, Saul Aaron (British actor Julian Sands) who, driven away from America because of his religion, lands in a Mumbai dance school.

Nishu and Asif, despite their nimble-footed ballet steps, find their paths paved with the hardest of obstacles. When foreign scholarships from famous ballet academies come calling, they cannot get a visa because they have no bank accounts. And while Asif’s father, dictated by his religion, is dead against the boy’s music and dancing, Nishu’s dad, a taxi driver, feels that his son’s passion is a waste of time and energy.

Well, all this ends well — as we could have guessed — but solid writing and imaginative editing along with Ankur Tewari’s curated music and the original score by Salvage Audio Collective turn “Yeh Ballet” into a gripping tale. It is not an easy task to transform a documentary into fiction, but Taraporevala does it with great ease. Or so it appears. Of course, the two protagonists add more than a silver lining to a movie that will be long remembered — the way we still mull over “Salaam Bombay” or “The Namesake.” But what I missed was a bit more ballet; the two guys are just wonderful to watch as they fly through the air.