Tuesday, June 12, 2012


As I reflect on the shopping part of my Marrakech trip, thoughts of bold color, exquisite artistry, and fresh design inspiration come to mind.  It seems we are in a Morocco fever moment here in the states, so I am happy to report back on all things magical from Marrakech. No trip there is complete without a foray into the medina, but consider booking a guide for your first jaunt. Because is it is so large and varied, t can be sensory overload and then some.
My partner in shopping crime, Editor at Large's Julia Noran and I visited two of the three main shopping areas while we were there. We took on the historic old-world souk in the medina and Gueliz, the newer, more metropolitan area.  As we checked destinations off the list and raced around, I knew I had found my shopping doppelganger. Julia's shopping enthusiasm rivaled my own!
There are classic handcrafts and incredibly artistry worth seeking out. If you want special custom kaftans and rugs, you can find them, and have them made by special vendors. For a completely varied shopping experience,  visit the amazing boutiques opened by French expats that have a more Western, sophisticated aesthetic. 
I found Melissa Biggs Bradley's Indigare list to be invaluable, as I trust her exquisite taste and candid coverage. Below, I share an assortment of finds, both old and new, that capture the invigorating Marrakech shopping  scene. Local style advisers, My Marrakesh blogger and author of the new Marrakech by Design, Maryam Montague, and old friend Caitlin Dowe-Sands of Popham Design tile company helped me find my footing once there.


Colorful tassels in the medina
Savor the sights and sounds in the Grand Bazaar, the largest outdoor market in the world. Since it is a bit of a free for all, it can be overwhelming at first, so feel it out with a guide and then go back and explore on your own. The luscious plentiful displays are a great lesson in merchandising, and Moroccans want to welcome you with their beautifully bountiful wares.

The best rugs in the souk are at  Bazar Jouti. Mohamed Karimi will unroll rug after rug for you. Above, some Berber handiwork.

These watercolors found at an antique dealer in the souk really capture the daily life of the locals.

A bone inlay box I had to resist.

A beautifully engraved  silver teapot.

Woven straw water bottle covers in brights and stripes. Genius!

Again, the plethora amazes, with embellished woven stray market bags. It would not surprise me if you started seeing these stateside soon.

Arab newspapers with that fantastic cursive font.


Just off Rue de la Liberte at 12 Rue Vieux Marrakchi is a Frenchified boutique that mesmerized me. It seems a cadre of stylish women call Bacconier their style secret, as many of the colorful tops and jewelry  have been worn by Sarah Jessica Parker and the like. Arranged by color, the dresses and shirts with darling details also inspired Calypso's founder, Christiane Celle. Located in the newer part of town, Gueliz, the area is bustling with city life and modern stores.  To cover the lively area with the most velocity, have a taxi drop you off at Rue  de la Liberte and hit either side of the street at that intersection.  Many of the buildings in the area were painted a soothing peach color, which just added to the appeal.

I had to get a pair of ballet slippers of Moroccan leather with embroidery detailing at the toe. I settled on the bright pink pair. Of course.

Printed and solid cashmere wraps for chilly Moroccan nights.

Festive embroidered loafers and ikat boots.

Wear your ikat well.

Her jewels on display.

This dress! Hmm, I can see the Calypso influence.

Your entire summer wardrobe awaits!

A vintage Berber headdress.


Gueliz has several modern stores with a fresh approach, but we did not hit all of them. Just down the brick path from Bacconier is sister and brother duo Isabelle Duchet-Annez and Yann Dobry's amazing shop, Moor.  A modern screen in the window and colorful kaftans lure you in, as do the all - white lanterns clustered overhead. They opened their first store, one of the first expat stores, Akbar Delights, in the medina in 2004.  Boy oh boy, this store was like hitting the style jackpot. After the a so-so experience in the souk, it was refreshing to see such stunning design in a well-edited environment.  It is worth seeking out these two standout stores in the neighborhood for fashion and home.

The visual impact of clustered, monochromatic, pierced lanterns brought on a bit of Stendahl Syndrome for me.

Come on!

When paired with ancient wooden cartouches, the clash of old and new is arresting.

Now, on to the clothes! Many of their incredible kaftans are made in India, but they capture the vibe of Marrakech so well.

Arranged by color, the palette is ravishing.

Wowza chic.

Her embroidered pillows mix haberdashery fabrics and a clash of yarn colors for an unexpected result.

Embroidered ikat pillows and painted ceramics.

The Moroccan's adored their Yves


Across from the divine Majorelle Gardens, a new concept store flourishes. Located on rue Yves Saint-Laurent, in the spirit of Paris's now iconic concept shop Colette, 33 Rue Majorelle is a distinctly modern Moroccan destination, that shows the cool designs of upwards of 50 local talents. You cannot believe how fabulous the stuff is. Part Conran shop, part Scoop, the store hits all design fronts equally well.

How amazing are these straw woven flats in the spirit of the classic Chanel cap toe?

I love the jaunty bow.

Timeless tile patterns make their way onto modern tabletop.

Colorful wooden stools piled high were a statement unto themselves.

Bright porcelain dinnerware with funny illustrations of Moroccans riding scooters.

Cool pared down painted cocktail table.


Culling the best high fashion and accessories around, Bernard Sanz, who was with YSL for years, has created an incredible museum shop. Silk clutches, tassel belts, and giant chunky jewelry were attention grabbing.  The shop is located within the gardens, next to the cafe. Go there!


If there is one store worth seeking out for home furnishings and decorative objects, it's Blaoui. From the outside of 142-144 Bab Doukkala it looks like any other facade with oversized doors. But don't be fooled, what lies within is a trove of treasures. Rugs, textiles, leather chests, china, glasses and metalwork are piled high, floor to ceiling. Not just any ceiling mind you, a ceiling strung with the most magical pierced and intricate lanterns you have ever seen. Make sure you take the time to visit all four floors, as each one has their own vibe.

Upon entering, this is what you see.

Need I say more?

Lanterns all aglow.

But wait, there are MORE.

Glassware by the yard.

Paintings and decorative objects make this soon-to-be Riad (boutique hotel) so special.
 A courtyard with a wonderful fountain and garden statuary.

A filigreed brass lamp was so beautiful.

A heavy orange and turquoise dhurrie made this chair look sharp.

A seating area with everything you could need. If you see something you like, they ship stateside.

The cross merchandising was so enticing.

A skylight dome with an elaborate chandelier was a statement maker to be sure.

A red campaign chair and wooden frog? OK.

Colorful embroidered old and new textiles, many of which were from India.

On the first floor, Moroccan leather chests that would make perfect nightands.

How amazing are the colors of the leathers?

Green glazed pottery is available in every size imaginable.


Anonymous said...

OMG! I need to get to Morocco ASAP. This radio show is just rubbing it in.


Holly Phillips said...

OMG! I need to get to Morocco ASAP. Your fab radio spot is just rubbing it in.

Great job!

Holly Phillips@ The English Room

KIS Boutique & Terrace Cafe said...

Shame we didn't see you at KIS Boutique www.kismarrakech.com. Maybe next time.

Marisa/Stylebeat said...

Yes, Holly you do!
KIS, I so wanted to visit you and thank you for reading Stylebeat. Can I visit your website to see your wonderful things?