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Morocco is a much cited source of inspiration for fashion designers- particularly Yves Saint Laurent, who regularly visited his Marrakech villa to fuel ideas for his collections. He even went as far as designing a garden in the centre of the city which is now a frequented tourist hot-spot. After visiting the country for two weeks over Easter I immediately understood why it has such a powerful allure. The chaotic streets of Marrakech contain a vibrant mix of different cultures- French, Arabic, Berber and African influences result in a wide variety of colours, patterns and textures that can be found on carpets, bags and clothing. Despite the influence of Western fashion, the local people still take great pride in their traditional clothes and wear beautiful, boldly coloured djellaba (loose, full sleeved gowns with head covers). These are often rich with ornamentation such as beads and embroidery. Rocking up to your next lecture in a bright red djellabra might not necessarily be the best option for you, but there are plenty of ways to add an essence of Morocco to your outfits with some accessories.
Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square in Marrakech, has many local women offering to paint henna on your hands and feet, dotted amongst snake charmers and fresh orange juice stalls. Henna is a temporary tattoo made from the red-brown dye of a plant native to North Africa and is a great way to add an Arabic influence to your outfits. I had henna done during my stay and the lady free-styled an intricate floral pattern in a matter of seconds. But if you can’t go to Morocco, bring Morocco to you; henna paste is available to buy online. Just make sure you stay away from black henna as it can cause allergic reactions.
The hamsa is a popular palm-shaped amulet in Northern Africa. They’re found all over Marrakech; adorning jewellery in the souks, hanging on the walls of homes and dangling from the rear-view mirror of buses. Recently in the West they’ve become a fashionable symbol; there are very few high street fashion stores that don’t have these hands on vest tops and jewellery. It’s used to ward off the evil eye- a malicious stare believed capable of causing bad luck, illness or even death,(I guess that makes Urban Outfitters one of the safest places in the country). So not only does this amulet make pretty jewellery that adds interest to your outfit, it’ll also protect you from those unwanted evils the next time you borrow your flatmates milk without asking.