Mous Lamrabat

  • WordsAmira Asad
  • PhotographyMous Lamrabat

Mous Lamrabat is reinventing what it means to shoot fashion. A Moroccan transplant to Belgium, Mous’ is best known for his dreamy, pastel painted images of cloaked bodies as well visually translating Morocco’s obsessive nature with branding. His images often take shape against Morocco’s alluring landscapes. As a photographer who constantly plays with his style, sometimes shooting high-flash, abstract images, sometimes shooting raw, indigenous colors, it isn’t exactly easy to place his work. But it’s for exactly this reason that people are attracted to his work, this unknown of what’s to come next. A curiosity for how each image was born.

Amira Asad: You works a lot with faux or mimic luxury brand symbols in your photos, such as Gucci and Prada for example. Can you tell me about this decision?

Mous Lamrabat: It started when I met my friend Artsi Ifrach in Morocco – he’s also helped me open my eyes a lot and been a bit of a creative mentor. We often work together and both are into fashion and want to continue working in it, but want to approach it differently. Everyone has a different idea of what something should look like. In shooting a campaign, for example, if I tell you that you have to photograph one tomorrow for Nike or Gucci you’re already influenced by having seen thousands of campaigns. You already know a direction you have to work in. We try to start from a new universe. In a parallel universe, how would you shoot a campaign if there weren’t any before it to influence you? In Morocco everything is branded. You have Louis Vuitton scooters, Gucci trucks, a tracksuit with the H&M logo just because it needs to have a brand. I thought it would be fun to create something from this.

AA: Do people ever compare you to Hassan Hajjaj because he’s also a Moroccan artist whose work incorporates heavy branding? If so, do you find that suffocating?

ML: What Hassan Hajjaj does is what he does. It’s really his own style and you can always recognize when an image is his. We do make photos with brands in them, but we also make artwork and sometimes there’s a brand in it but most of the time there’s not. I don’t want to be stuck thinking that there’s only photographer in Morocco that’s making it. I just told someone today that when you run on your own path, there’s a lot of things happening next to you. My goal isn’t to be the the best photographer in Morocco. My goal is set so high, I’m scared to say it. First of all I want to inspire and second of all I want to be remembered. I want for people to go to art school in Belgium and when they study photography, I want to be the person they have to read about.

AA: There are a lot of fully veiled women in your images – they almost feel genderless sometimes. How did you start working with this as a subject?

ML: When you read photography, the face is the key to everything. If you look at a magazine cover the first things you see are the eyes and face – it’s important. I wanted to try to ask: what happens if you eliminate everything, is it still possible to create something interesting? Then you start to be a director of your images and decide where someone should look at first. The cool thing is everyone sees something different in [these images]. A lot of people see sculptures, a lot of people see identity, and that’s kind of thing I really love but didn’t plan for.

AA: The veils you photograph are made with these sunset palette gold and blue and pink, sort of dreamy, silk fabrics. Is there any intention behind these choices, other than aesthetics?

ML: I really love the texture of them. Im really obsessed with textures, if you follow me on Instagram you’ll see me squeezing bread, feeling things. Textures are something that have as much importance as the visual direction. In some way, the fabrics I shot are kind of feminine and almost sensual. For me, they give the biggest cue that women were under the fabrics.

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