Marrakech used to be best known for its confronting main square Djemaa El Fna with its many snake charmers, henna tattoo artists and street food restaurants, and the neighbouring, disorientating medina where market sellers hustle you through streets of possible purchases. Now that the city has earned a reputation as a shoppers paradise where you can spend days perusing handmade rugs, geometric-patterned concrete tiles, beautifully made shoes and handbags (and more), many design houses have relocated to the outskirts of the city to what’s becoming known as Marrakech’s design district. We recently reported on LRNCE, a Belgian-Moroccan brand based in this more industrial neighbourhood and now here’s our second find, Marakshi Life – a fashion (and soon to be homewares) brand that brings together traditional Moroccan skills with a contemporary sartorial style.
Marrakshi Life is the brainchild of fashion photographer and former New Yorker Randall Bachner who originally opened his brand deep in the medina of Marrakech in 2013 working with local tailors to create his first menswear collection. Having moved to this larger self-contained space further out of town he has since developed the range to include womanswear with aspirations of introducing childrens clothing and homewares soon too. Whatever the subject, the aesthetic is distinct – one that Bachner has previously likened to Issey Miyake mixed with the local Moroccan dress sense. “I like looking at how people put their outfits together here like PJs,” he has said. Looking at the extremely comfortable silhouettes of the clothing it’s easy to make this link.
Arriving at the atelier and shop – a large warehouse space that’s the stuff of hip fashion brand dreams – you’re immediately greeted with the spectacle of local artisans weaving the cloth on rows and rows of hand looms. These back onto a huge library wall of colourful threads complete with a ladder for accessing those most out of reach shades.
Nearby, the tailoring team work hard on turning the cloth into unisex jumpsuits, dresses, jackets, shirts and trousers which then journey across the room to be displayed in the tasteful shop space.
For all that the tailoring silhouettes are a big part of Marakshi Life, it’s clear that Bachner, who in his career has worked for titles such as T-Magazine and W, has an eye that understands colour. The collection is awash with mouth-watering shades, from peachy pinks and lemony yellows to deep plums and olive greens – often with a subtle stripe running through the cloths. Each piece works in isolation, but it’s striking how well they also present in tandom with each other. Found your dream jumpsuit? You’ll probably want the complimenting jacket hanging nearby. And if you don’t leave Marakshi LIFE coveting their communal kitchen space with its tobacco coloured Zellige tiles and casual long canteen tables, then you don’t have a beating design heart.
Like neighbour LRNCE, the location of Morocco itself definitely feeds the vision at Marakshi Life, which is perhaps a benefit of its founder being an ex pat, an outsider looking in. “The light and the vibrancy of the city really inspired me,” Bachner has said. The results of his creations have in turn inspired the many creatives who live and work locally. Marakshi Life is frequently recruited to make uniforms for some of the loveliest restaurants and hotels – most recently, interiors haven Berber Lodge.
When we visited we couldn’t help swooning over some cushions on the sofas in the shop space – not for sale, but definitely something they’re thinking about, we were told. Something to watch for…
All photos by the author.