I’m being inspired by all things Morocco this week as I explore a London-based interior and fashion design online shop specialising in Bohemian lifestyles and Moroccan charm. Think kaftans, Argan Oil beauty products, leather poufs, gorgeous colour palettes ..the list is endless! It was with great excitement that I caught up with Reina Hagen-Cherquaoui, founder of this paradise online shop – Maison De Marrakech. Hi Reina!
Please introduce Maison de Marrakech …
Maison de Marrakech is a bohemian lifestyle company. Our motto is to bring that beautiful, peaceful, elegant, yet simple lifestyle of Morocco into the lives of every woman (or man, of course!). I initially started by creating small numbers of kaftans or tunics that I thought would bring exotic-ness and beauty into the everyday lives of women around the world. Marrakech has a uniqueness that enriches your life, and awakens all your senses, and Maison de Marrakech is a place where you can find products that re-creates that beautiful ambience. Therefore, although we are known for our kaftans, our ultimate goal is to introduce the bohemian ‘lifestyle products’ into people’s lives. Also, as most items are handmade, it creates that feeling of directness, and you can feel the history in each product. Each product of ours has a history, not just anonymous.
What inspired you to set up Maison de Marrakech?
It was definitely love at first sight. I felt my passion and enthusiasm come alive the moment I stepped into the Medina of Marrakech.
Marrakech, to me, was very mysterious, rustic, elegant, simple, rich, colourful, bohemian, deep, new & old, so much diversity and depth. To me, it felt like, “I had found what I was looking for all my life”. Moroccan design/art/crafts, had every element I looked for in beauty, and gave me that peace of harmony & happiness in life. For me, looking at beauty is pleasing to the eyes, and being surrounded, living in that space, creates happiness. It’s exactly this blissful moment, this happiness and richness that I wanted to share with everyone. This is how I started my company. It’s simply to share what brought me happiness, and to visually share this with the world; as well as to help women feel absolutely beautiful and exotic about themselves, to encourage their self esteem, and to bring out their inner beauty.
As you were born in Japan, what attracted you to Marrakech?
Marrakech gave me every element I was looking for in beauty. Its richness, simplicity, complexity, colours, passion, harmony, and elegance was hard to resist. What’s really surprising is that, Marrakech (or Morocco in general) could have 2 completely different elements, but they blend so well together, eg. rich, yet simple; passionate yet calming. I loved the Japanese traditional arts, and have seen much beauty around the world, but for me, Moroccan art gave me a feeling of ‘coming home’. This is what attracted me to Marrakech, and still does.
I love the Turquoise Leather Pouf – it’s gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?
Our popular items are definitely the ‘one size’ Marrakech Resort Kaftan series, the tan Moroccan poufs, and some more trendy kaftans we are creating such as the ‘zigzag Zahara kaftan’.
Out of all the outfits, accessories, beauty & boho interior products in your collection, do you have any favourites?
I must say, I do agree with my clients, in that my favourite will be the same as my customers: the one size Marrakech kaftans, our new boho style kaftans & the Moroccan leather poufs.
Your travels around the world have left you with a profound appreciation of arts & culture – this is evident through your love of Marrakech. So, what place is now on the top of your travel bucket list?
I love travelling to places where the ambience is beautiful and peaceful – somewhere you could have gone 100 years ago and would have still been the same as today. For this reason, I’d love to travel to places like: Florence in Italy and Rajasthan in India.
Your shop specialises in promoting Bohemian lifestyles – which famous lady and man would you love to see as the “faces” of Maison de Marrakech?
It would have to be a type of person who has the gorgeous exotic look that could pull off a simple kaftan and make it look absolutely stunning, and also lives a kind of bohemian lifestyle: Kate Moss.
Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016, what new items will you be introducing?
AW2016 will be quite exciting for us, as we will be creating new boho-style Moro inspired jackets, and create a new look, where we’ll be creating new tunics, that you can layer with a turtle neck, or with any winter clothing. We will also introduce more of the accessories, bags and Beni Ouirain types of rugs to keep your home nice and cosy for the coming winter season.
As you are based in London (& Morocco), are your products available to purchase overseas?
Yes, we are an online based company. All products could be purchased via online , shipped to anywhere around the world.
When designing outfits to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?
I do incorporate a bit of the trend, customers taste, but I always am loyal to what I believe and use the Moro traditional charm as my base of design.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I used to wear only high heels from Karen Miller, Anne Klein and Jimmy Choo, but now with raising children and juggling work, I tend to wear sandals from Tory Burch (they do have beautiful elegant sandals!)
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)
Yes. I love the boho vibe of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I’d love to get one of those gladiator sandals, they look fab and bring a flair of glamour to any outfit but especially with short skirts/shorts. Or a pair of tan boots (with heels ). I would also love a golden bling Jimmy Choo type of party high heels, just to keep myself feeling feminine!
Boots or Shoes?
Boots are always great for a walk in the woods or for picking up kids – you could wear them anytime, anywhere (except for holiday beaches). You just pop them on, and they’re so practical. So, I love boots!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Maison de Marrakech.
Thank you Reina for chatting on the blog today and I absolutely adore your products – oh the colours! I love your travel ideas of going to places virtually untouched by the modern world…. I visited once a village called Greffeil in the foothills of the French Pyrenees … some houses still had hay in the basement/ground floor to house their goats overnight, the goat herders still shepherded as they had always done for years … It was like stepping back 100 years. Have any of you, dear readers, visited places that have remained virtually unchanged? Do tell, I’d love to know!
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Reina Hagen – Cherquaoui / Maison De Marrakech