Old Marrakech may have its souks and snake charmers, but for serious shopping, head to the city’s modern district
Photographs by Thaïs Martin
Founded in the 11th century as a walled warren of sultry souks and frescoed riads, Marrakech has long lured foreigners with its North African exoticism. But there’s more to this Moroccan metropolis than the medina, as its medieval quarter is called. Guéliz, the European-style district laid out by the French in 1913, has emerged in recent years as a hotbed of hassle-free shopping, thanks to a profusion of fixed-price boutiques that come as a welcome relief after the haggling of the souks.
A good way to start is with Laetitia Trouillet, a Bordeaux-born designer who moved to Marrakech to establish her own brand, Lalla. Today, Trouillet doubles as the city’s ultimate personal shopper, having escorted the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker around town. Make an appointment to meet at her just-opened Studio Lalla (5 Rue de la Liberté; 212-661/477-228), which is filled with vintage finds and stylish, handmade Moroccan leather accessories.
Across the street is Ben Rahal (28 Rue de la Liberté; 212-524/433-273), with two floors piled high with Berber tribal rugs, Tuareg tent mats, sequined wool wedding capes from the Atlas Mountains, and hand-knotted carpets in a kaleidoscope of colors. A few doors down, step into at L’Orientaliste (No. 11; 212-524/434- 074) for aromatic perfumes and ornate brassware before crossing Avenue Mohammed V and taking a left up narrow Rue des Vieux Marrakchis. Here, the Michèle Baconnier Boutique (No. 12; 212-524/449-178) stocks Jaipur-made cotton dresses and richly embroidered ballet flats.
Farther along the lane is Moor (No. 7; 212-524/458-274), operated by brother-and-sister team Yann Dobry and Isabelle Duchet-Annez. The store’s soaring white walls are punctuated with antique madrassa writing tablets, but the frocks, caftans, and jackets on sale are entirely contemporary, embellished with floral motifs or cut from fine geometric-patterned silk. Other highlights include earthy ceramic homewares and seashell-adorned throw pillows.