Escaping the gloomy winter of England, especially for a warm start of the second quarter life (Yes, I’m now proudly 25!) with my Impish Furrie Natascha, was the best birthday gift. After an intense semester in Oxford, this was a much-needed, perfectly timed break. Despite Marrakech being advertised as overly touristy and being a well-known location for “exotic” background-seeking fashionistas, we were easily swayed by many friends’ tales about the enthusiasm and eerie sensation this city could trigger. For once, I felt lucky to be born in the midst of winter, as we arrived in Marrakech in the low season, when the temperature was pleasant and the space navigable.
So … here we found ourselves wandering with a best friend in a strange town, talking philosophically about life and love and ambitions, immersing in the multitude of colors and alleys in the Souks (Moroccan market maze), visiting the past residence of Yves Saint Laurent, riding stubborn camels, or randomly dropping by Moroccan family houses in the Jewish Quarter.
Marrakech was no doubt a city of contrast. In many parts of the city, economic poverty was rampant, local houses were dilapidated and cramped. Then in between, there were riad mansions, opulent spas, and ruins of old palaces.
Yet above all, there was this free, hectic, sensuous vibe we could feel in the air. Just as in Paris, we also checked out many cafés in Marrakech. I feel that sitting in a café and observing its people, soaking up its environment can tell us a lot about the pulse of a place. It was a true pleasure exploring cafés here, as we were either at awe with lavish, majestic architecture (such as that of the Royal Mansour) or were instilled with a peculiar yet cozy feeling at the Café des Epices, Café Arabe, or Café Argana, which offers a stunning view over the main market square Jemaa el-Fna, especially at dusk.
Talking about the markets (Souks), we very much enjoyed being able to splurge on antiques here. Among all the little treasures I brought home was a gorgeous unique-looking clutch for the price of an English coffee- which indicates that each time I carry it around, you know I’m hunting for compliments! From Vietnam myself with many vibrant markets, I was not a bit reluctant to haggle; whereas, for my Berliner Furrie, this was a totally new concept that required consistent practice! By the end of the trip though, Impish Furrie had proudly become a haggling expert.
The highlight of the trip for us, needless to say, was our visit to the beautiful Jardin de Majorelle. This was Yves Saint Laurent’s main residence during the 60s and 70s as he sought refuge from the increasingly unbearable pressure of his Parisian life (detailed in the latest YSL biopic by Jalil Lespert). The designer’s Moroccan passion was markedly reflected in his collections’ colors, drapings and fabric. Saint Laurent once revealed about his 1976s couture collection: “[This] collection will be colourful, lively, bright. The fabrics will be woven like in Morocco, striped, like djellabahs, in wool. […] I don’t know if this is my best collection. But it is my most beautiful collection.”
Since YSL is one of our greatest fashion inspirators, it was dreamlike to explore where he had lived a major part of his hedonic life and derived his artistic inspiration. It was an oasis of green, blue and tranquility when we came. His small electric-blue villa nestled among a lush garden full of cactus, palm trees and sunshine. No wonder why such a place should have drawn out the genius for texture and colors. Palpable here was, perhaps, the appeal of Marrakech to Saint Laurent and, definitely, to us: the bohemian chaos, the striking vibrancy of colors, the sensuous passion for creating and the lushness of living.
– Vintage Furrie