In one of Magnum photographer Bruno Barbey’s most enduring images, rows of French students pass cobblestones destined for barricades during the Paris uprising of May 1968, their outstretched arms shadowed by a backdrop of smoke. Barbey, who passed away last fall, was known for his singular chronicling of conflict; he was there, Leica in hand, during the Vietnam War, the Six-Day War in the Middle East, Poland in the time of Solidarnosc, and the Iraq War of the early 1990s. The lens through which he cast those areas of unrest was a distinctly humanistic one, often memorializing moments of stillness, even beauty, amidst the surrounding chaos.
Barbey brought that same sensibility to the lives he captured far outside conflict zones. His visual narration of 1960s-era Italy—a family of four crowded onto the back of a Vespa; espressos being solemnly sipped standing at a caf counter; a procession of worshippers shuffling down a narrow street followed by the flower-strewn statue of a saint; older women, their heads covered in silk kerchiefs and hands firmly clasped, silently evaluating passerby—captured the country’s true spirit. “I started taking photographs as an 18-year-old, with the desire to have human contact, to travel, to engage with different cultures, to express my sensibility,” he once said. But while Barbey used photography to discover and connect with new cultures, to feed his desire to be a cultural nomad, he also relied on it to pay homage to his first home: Morocco. Conjuring, over the course of five decades a spectacular catalogue of its people and places—a man in head-to-toe stripes his head bowed down camouflaged against the black and white tiles and faded mustard walls of a shrine in Meknes; the star-shaped courtyard of the shrine of Moulay Idriss in Fez, as captured from above; a constellation of burnt umber-colored hides strewn across buildings by the tanners of Sidi Moussa, drying in the sun; women lounging and chatting in ceremonial dress during a Berber festival in Marrakech.
Morocco is where Barbey’s work also took a distinct turn from black and white to color, the photographs of his home buzzing with a new lifeforce in brighter, saturated hues. This season, Anaak too used Morocco—specifically the cozy enclave of a serene, sandwashed Berber lodge amidst the desert skirted by succulents and tall grasses—as a backdrop for its evolving color palette. For Spring/Summer 2022 the color story unfolds from natural calico, soft white, and palest peach, to sweet bluebell, faded flamingo, and earthy turmeric to, in its final crescendo, the signature grand-scale silk habutai dresses in a rainbow of otherworldly fluoro hues.
The impetus for this season’s silhouettes—prairie-style ruffle-sleeved minidresses, floaty tiered sundresses, breezy separates, paperbag-waisted shorts, gauzy cropped tops, long tunics—was one that felt, quite literally, close to home. A collection rooted in clothes that mimic our now more insular nature—styles that feel in harmony with our surroundings; that act as a relaxed uniform no matter where the day takes you; and that, most vitally, a evoke a sense of joy and ease.