In the above video, Paloma Picasso discusses her for zellige-inspired jewelry collection made for for Tiffany & Co. I’ve noticed lots of designers playing with Moroccan mosaic patterns as part of their jewelry collections.
The above piece is designed by Lee Angel (www.leeangel.com and reminds me of some of my favorite tile work. I bought the one in the picture on sale at bluefly.com. If this discount were deeper, I’d buy the red and white one too. I hope I love it when I meet it in person.
If you are lucky enough to travel to Morocco, don’t miss a visit to Chefchaouen. It isn’t an easy spot to travel to – there are no trains – but it is well worth the effort. When I think back on last summer in Morocco, I miss Chefchaouen the most. More
Color is never shy in Moroccan design. Bold blues, rustic oranges, tropical greens mix with metalic accents. Flavors of vegetables like eggplant and olive, spices such like saffron and cumin, and fruits like the barbarian fig offer further color inspiration.
I opened the mailbox and saw a little square package. Could it be? The return label read “Argan Oils…Chicago, IL.” Yes! My package of argan oils had arrived!
I was approached by Argan Oils to list their product on my website and wanted to test the quality first. If you purchase their product through my site, I get a commission on the sale.
Argan oil is made from the kernels of the argan tree, which only grows in southern Morocco. Extracting the oil is a labor-intensive process primarily done by Berber women in the Atlas region. For centuries the oil has been valued for its culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal properties. Only recently has it gained popularity in Europe and the United States as an eco-friendly, anti-aging ingredient.
I don’t consider myself prone to hippie fashion. Perhaps this is a contradiction since I love Moroccan design and Morocco has a special place in hippie history. But something about patchouli, knotted hair, and dazed circle dancing has never resonated positively with me.
My favorite thing to do in Rabat is to take pack my daughter and her trike in the car and head towards the medina. In May and June the weather is nice, perhaps a bit too hot at midday, but the crowds are thin. As my girl peddles her trike I take in the visual delight of artisan shops. If we visit during lunch when some of the shops are closed I can admire the painted doors. Sometimes we cross the street to the kasbah Oudaya for more fun exploring the gardens and a cup of tea for mom and cookies for the girl.
In the medina of Chefchaoen there is a tiny shop where a happy guy knits the night away making funky hats, scarves, legwarmers and more. Tiny rainbow hats with animal ears for kids are particularly cute. This past December, I left with a hat and scarf to provide warmth in the mountain town’s cold night. I thought it was a steal compared to what I’d pay for similar set at Urban Outfitters or the like.
I just bought a bag made of fabric woven from silk and cotton with leather detailing. I bought it from the “purse guy” on Rue des Consuls in the medina Rabat. He has excellent quality bags. If you get to go to Rabat, stop by his shop. I don’t know how to describe the exact location, but you should be able to spot it by the steady flow of customers coming in and out.
I visited a Moroccan home goods boutique in Agdal that specializes in quality home accessories and gifts. It was hard to chose from the colorful candles, glassware, table linens, art, tapestries, and little gift items with a toddler in tow. I bought a few pens and hair sticks. I asked the shop keeper if they considered exporting their products to the United States. She said that quality control is a problem “you have to look at everything.”
I had a chance to observe artisans creating pottery and mosaics at a ceramics factory in Fes. You can see products and request estimates through the factory’s website at www.artnaji.net. The site also has information on the production process. If you click on the photo above, you can view my flickr photostream, which has more photos of the factory.
In Istanbul I received the following advice: “You cannot trust the weather, the water, or the women.” I suggested adding carpet dealers to the list, which made my host laugh in agreement.
Buying a carpet is a game. Can you spot quality? Are you able to recognize craftsmanship? If not, it is your fault if you are willing to overpay for a mistaking a common product for something exotic. In Istanbul I got caught-up in the atmosphere and bought a carpet for several times what it would have cost me to purchase in the United States. My advice: buy what you like, which applies to Fes as equally as Istanbul.
Fashion has been trying to integrate Moroccan style into clothing for years. I recollect a quilted skirt in a zillij pattern years ago that never made it off the runway into mainstream. Recently, Tracy Reese created a zillij-inspired handbag that I think I have to buy. It is a much better version of Morocco than the Furla bag I saw a few springs ago, which featured an unfortunate zillij print.
Anthropologie has picked up the effort to bring Moroccan style to fashion with it’s 2008 spring catalog titled “Escape to Morocco.” I brought the catalog to a recent family dinner to get the opinion of my husband and two brother-in-laws. “The tall brunette got more attention than the blond in Morocco” was the opinion of the oldest. “Why did they do her hair that way? It is really unflattering” was the opinion of the cover model given by the youngest. My sister in-law questioned “Are you looking at the girls or the clothes?” My view: ladies, none of the feature outfits are appropriate for a tour of the medina in Fes.