Clothing is a powerful tool when it comes to self-expression. For some, it is an expression of all kinds of emotions, for others a way of protecting themselves. From colourful extravagance and introverted sobriety to humorous winks and religious references. This layering of interpretations comes together in photographer Mous Lamrabat‘s colourful exhibition A(R)MOUR at MAD Brussels this summer.
Colourful embraces in the desert. Henna tattoos that flirt with Pop art; popular symbols placed in a new context. Photographer Mous Lamrabat turns the world upside down and provides a renewed view of society with his photography. Sometimes utopian, often humorous. But always socially critical.
For his new series of photos, Mous Lamrabat exchanged the desert for a more urban context. And for this he did not have to go far at all. A touch of North Africa in Brussels is sometimes closer than we think. The Moroccan Belgian photographer – with his regular partner in crime stylist Lisa Lapauw – sought out some colourful places in the capital that remind him of his motherland. With a suitcase filled with unusual silhouettes, they traveled through the streets of Brussels. Ceramic shoes by Naomi Gilon, impressive work by emerging talent such as Marie Adam Leenaerdt, sunglasses by Anneleen Bertels. These are just a few of the pieces on show.
In addition, the exhibition A(R)MOUR is also an ode to love and gives a colourful look at the fragile or sometimes powerful protection that clothing can offer us. What does a logo say about your personality? What does a headgear like a Fez or a basketball cap mean? Some people’s armour will be different from others’, but both are always in place. And perhaps the truth is somewhere in between.
After studying interior design, Mous Lamrabat (40) broke through as a self-made fashion photographer. He soon developed his own visual language in which spontaneity, humour and an unconventional view of the world are central. The fusion of different stylistic elements and cultural references are at the heart of his creativity. Consequently, his oeuvre is internationally acclaimed for the way he brings together Moroccan and Western aesthetics. Lamrabat created his own utopian space that exists beyond a world of cultural divisions, racism and status.
“Finding your own style is like coming home. With my photography, I create a world like a child creates a universe in his room. It’s a fantasy world in which you feel at home.” — Mous Lamrabat
His lens has already taken him to all corners of the world for international magazines such as Vogue Arabia, GQ Middle East and Vanity Fair. He also creates campaigns for the likes of YSL Beauty, Burberry, Chanel and WhatsApp. And he portrayed none other than pop phenomena Pharrell Williams, Stromae, Joey Bada$$, Natalia and Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH. Just last year, he won a Belgian Fashion Award in the category Professional of the Year. After a showcase at the Fotomuseum Antwerpen in 2021 and a major exhibition at Foam in Amsterdam in 2022, he is now a guest at MAD Brussels.
“The curiosity and energy with which Mous Lamrabat looks at the world is hugely infectious,” says Dieter Van Den Storm, creative director at MAD Brussels. “Anyone who looks through the splashes of colour and the stylised image can only discover a different world view. One that is layered. A story that makes one think about the world we live in and what it could ideally be. But above all, one that challenges our cultural values and is connective. It is wonderful to dive into that cultural bath! Some call him provocative, for me he is a precious bridge-builder between generations and cultures.”
For the summer exhibition at MAD Brussels, the centre for fashion and design, Mous Lamrabat worked on a commission with and around creatives in Brussels and far beyond. The new series of photographs is an ode to Brussels creativity as we have never seen it before. It also features other of his own work that has not yet been shown.
Coincidentally or not, but the cultural melting pot that is our capital city was an obvious source of inspiration. Growing up between two worlds, between this and that, in search of cultural heritage. Lamrabat found his match in a lot of designers. Brussels-based designer Siré Kaba of the Erratum Fashion brand has Guinean roots. Kenza Taleb Vandeput builds a bridge between Belgium and Algeria with her label Kasbah Kosmic. Fernando Miro, of men’s brand Mipinta, found their way to Brussels via Brazil and France. And a better-known brand like Botter, the label of Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter, finds its inspiration in Caribbean culture. Textile designer Shishi San and her tufted vases are the perfect complement to Mous Lamrabat’s colourful oeuvre.
As an extra layer and totally in the same vibe of Mous Lamrabat, the expo is bathed in a colourful scenography with texile by French designer and scenographer Justin Morin. The exhibition runs the enitre summer at MAD Brussels.
Press release from MAD Brussels