Meet designer, consultant, mom, and all around super woman Laetitia Trouillet. In the past nine years that she has been living in Marrakesh, she has managed to take superstars Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker shopping in the souk, open a chic boutique, Lalla, that carries her Moroccan-made leather goods, and become a consultant for hotels such as The Four Seasons. We asked Laetitia to share secrets about her own style and her favorite go-to places in Marrakesh.
How long have you been living in Marrakesh?
I was born in Bordeaux, France, I lived in London in my twenties, and I moved to Marrakesh 9 years ago.
In 2003 I had a stall in Portobello Market with Moroccan vintage, and I quickly started producing my own designs of bags and accessories in Marrakesh. My own label was born! The name "Lalla" means "Madame" in Arabic, and I moved to Marrakesh in 2005 because I started having big orders from various shops in Europe such as Top Shop and Paul&Joe in London, La Bon March? in Paris, and more.
I then set up a Personal Shopping service in Marrakesh and had a lot of clients such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Gwyneth Paltrow.
I now have two boutiques in the Medina, a showroom in the New Town, and source/consult for various clients such as the Four Seasons Hotel boutique.
What do you love about Morroco?
Morocco is very appreciated by the French people as it is very close to France and also because of the language. I always liked the fact that it is a very exotic country so close to Europe, I find Marrakesh inspiring and always surprising. In Morocco, I love the cities, country side and coast, landscapes are stunning and this country offers so much to visitors. I like the relationships I built with people here - it is indeed a welcoming country and people are friendly and have a great sense of humor! The local craftsmen are very talented and I have learned a lot from them.
You must have seen Marrakesh change dramatically over the past few years?
Yes! But for the good I think. The Medina (old town where the Souks are) is still very traditional and ideal for visitors who want something different and exotic. But the New Town (Gu?liz) - where I live and have my studio, has considerably changed in the last five years. The suburbs have changed as well: more buildings, wider streets, and new restaurants, hotels and shops opening every week. It's crazy! Living here is great for us because it is more cosmopolitan. We can go for sushi and Vietnamese food, have pilates classes and better services. On the other hand, the city is turning into another "international city," which could make it lose its charm.
How has living in Marrakesh influenced your style?
I have left my stilettos and sexy tops in London and I now wear "comfortable" cotton clothes and flat shoes! Also, due to my job, I never know where I am going to be -- I am always between my studio in the New Town, my atelier in the Medina, my shops in the Souks, my suppliers everywhere, and in appointments with my clients. I also go to hotels such as the Four Seasons or La Mamounia. I had to adapt my style and to be casual and respectful of the local tradition -- Marrakesh is so relaxed that sometimes people forget they are in a Muslim country. I wouldn't wear shorts in the Souks, for example. I also wear brighter colors here. But I don't dress "too locally" -- wearing kaftans and tunics, except when I am on holiday. I have a few French essentials such as my Repetto ballet shoes, K Jacques sandals, a white shirt, and red lipstick. I still love my London basics; Vintage army jacket, grey denim slim jeans, cool tees, my trenchcoat, and cashmere jumpers in winter!
Since you live in one of the most exotic places in the world where do you go to vacation?
Since I live in Marrakesh, I am attracted to big cities. For short breaks without the kids from here, we go to European big cities (thanks to the low cost flights which are now doping Marrakesh) -- Lisbon, Paris, London, Barcelona, and Berlin. For longer trips: New York, Bangkok, and San Francisco, not only for shopping but to go to art exhibitions and shows. I love being anonymous (Marrakesh is such a village) and watching people from a cafe terrasse, and going to bars and clubs, and eating out. I get inspired and see what people are wearing -- that is quite important when you live all year round in a place like Marrakesh.
My boyfriend is a surfer and we have two kids so our favorite family holidays destinations are by the beach; Biarritz and Cap Ferret in the South of France, Oualidia on the Moroccan coast, and in the U.S. we love California and Montauk.
Can you give us a sense of what a day in your life is like?
I wake up very early because of my two very sweet children (a boy named Anton who is three and my five month old baby girl, India. I listen to the French radio on my iPad and read the news, check my emails. We live and work in the same area- in the New Town. I am a city girl, I like walking everywhere and being close to everything. I take my son to school then go straight to my Studio. Its a great space on the 2nd floor in Rue de La Libert?. My boyfriend has a restaurant next door to me called Kechmara. We often have lunch together. I plan my day and have a meeting with Ilham and Zineb, my assistants. I sometimes have meetings with clients at my studio or if not I go to the Medina, to my leather supplier or my atelier then often pass by my boutiques. On the way I always get inspired by something -- an interesting print in someone's djellabas, a colour in the souks, a traditional pillow, a piece of ribbon.the souks are full of interesting finds. Even after nine years, I love it!
Then I am back to the New town and I often get my son from school around 5 pm and go home to play with India. In the evenings, we often eat with friends, go to a restaurant or watch a movie.
What are the must go ?to local spots you would suggest every globetrotter visit in Marrakesh?
- STAY in a Riad - the traditional guesthouse in the Medina.
The souks! Buy old kilim pillows, leather poufs (can be easily folded) , berber embroidered bags, leather belts and cheap kaftans... love the Fez ceramic too. Small bowls. Have coffee on the Spice Market and finish by the Big Square Jema El Fna around 6-7pm to get a really good shot of Moroccan culture. Rue de La Libert? in the New Town : small independant boutiques and art galeries. Industrial area- Only if you have time because it could take a day by the time getting there with traffic and finding places. Go there for homeware.
- BUY home wares- if there was 1 shop to do: Mustapha Blaoui - amazing Aladdin's Cave - full of beautiful Moroccan homewares.
- RELAX Have a Hammam - the traditional body scrub with black soap in your hotel - so you can relax in your room after or at La Mamounia.
- SEE Have a mint tea at 6pm on the Main Square - Jema El Fna and see the famous square getting alive, noisy and busy. Food stalls are great too.
- VISIT Marrakesh art galeries: Galerie 127 for photography and David Bloch Gallery for young comtemporary artists.
- DRINK local Ros? or Grey : Early drinks in a beautiful hotel : La Mamounia or Royal Mansour.
- EAT Make sure you have a lamb shoulder tajine or a cousous before you leave Morocco! If you are in New Town check out-
Kechmara of course ! My boyfriend's restaurant. Burgers and salads are great. A good stop when shopping in Rue de La Libert?. In the souk- La Terrasse des Epices - where I have my boutiques. The perfect place for relaxing when shopping in the souks. For Dinner the best Moroccan food is at La Mamounia hotel- great experience, food and amazing service. To emmerse yourself with the locals- Jack is back. Great Italian in a Riad- I Limoni in Bab Taghzout.
- PARTY at Nouss Nouss - new restaurant & bar in the New Town.
- INSIDER SECRET Go to the fleamarket Bad Khmis in the mornings - less touristy than the souks and best for old wooden doors, seventies furnitures and old King pictures...
- ESCAPE for the night go glamping at Scarabeo Camp for 2 days go to the coast by the beach in Essaouira and stay at La Villa Maroc. Or go North in Oualidia for
the best seafood.
- MUST SEE HOTELS Dar Rbaa Laround- The best kept secret Riad- great location in the middle of the souks, great value, amazing design and great food. This is my friend Jean-Noel's riad that I love. It's small, very private, I always book it for my friends when they come to visit us.
- EXCURSION - In the Palmeraie I love "Les Deux Tours" - the garden, the food, lunch by the pool, amazing and La Villa des Orangers - great service, very central location by the Main Square, very stylish.
A few of my favorite shops and showrooms :
- Art/C- Crazy designer - love his unique style Vintage meets Morrocco meets Yves Saint Laurent - showroom by appointment : tel : 0660036246
- Fadila El Gadi- showroom by appointment : tel : 0661466280
- Belhaj- Bab Fteuh near Jema El Fna - wholesaler for jewelry - amazing selection of antique silver jewelry, african beads and old Moroccan coins and charms. Could stay hours going through boxes full of treasures. Good value for very unique pieces.
- Aya's- Popstar Prince and Sarah Jessica Parker are big fans ! Traditional tunics and kaftans. Nawal, the owner and designer is a great personality too.
- Mustapha Blaoui- Dar El Bacha - best for homeware, textile and leather poufs.
- Best rugs- Ben Rahal - Rue de la Libert? - amazing selection of old rugs - all the fashionable pieces are there : Beni Ouarens, kilims and Asilah.. good for shipping.
- Ciment tiles factory- Very stylish tiles designed by American couple Caitlin and Samuel Dowes Sandes. Not easy to bring back in the suitcase but easy to order!!
What 3 things are you coveting from L-atitude?