Embroidered delights from Marrakech

Made-to-measure exotica from the heart of the medina

A deep, multi-hour shopping incursion into the Marrakech medina: it’s an experience that is not to all tastes (and to very few olefactory sensibilities, I’d wager), but one that I find addictive. For the first (and even second- and third-) timer, it’s prudent to hire a guide – one who can navigate the labyrinthine twists and alleys of the souks, but also one with a mastery of the best names and goods on offer.

Tazi Freres, also known as L’Ourika Boutique, is one you’ll find on the shortlists of the best of these experts. There’s no lack of beautiful things inside the stuffed main space – caftans, tunics, jackets and djellabas of all shapes and sizes, many rendered with the gorgeously ornate monochrome silk Fassi embroidery the country’s textiles are famed for. Tazi’s wares distinguish themselves from most of the hundreds of other purveyors for their pared-down details and modern shapes: these are pieces that play as well at the office in W1 as they will over tagines and harira back at your riad.

What’s less known about Tazi is that it provides a bespoke service. Clients select a model – among the more popular are a structured mid-thigh tunic; a full-length quarter-sleeve caftan; and a slim, open mandarin-collar jacket – and then choose from the vast array of fabrics. These range from technicolor dupioni silks to weighty wools to ticking-like striped cottons to the most popular choice, a lovely mid-weight linen (of which there are about half a dozen permutations in off-white alone).

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If embroidery’s desired – and it should be; Tazi employs local women who produce astounding hand workmanship using 100 per cent silk thread – you can either select an existent set of collar and panel designs, or work with them to create new combinations. Pick an embroidery colour from the scores on offer (black on cream is the most traditional, but the bleu majorelle always tempts me – and the tone-on-tone pieces are sigh-provokingly elegant), and the elements are all there. The in-house team then take a full set of measurements, cut and fashion the base garment to them, and dispatch your order for its embroidery (the embroiderers all work from home, which allows them to also care for children and families). In about nine weeks you’ll have your more or less guaranteed one-of-a-kind piece.

Prices aren’t standard-medina cheap – a linen tunic with basic sleeve, panel and collar details will run to about €350 – but the quality of hand-embroidery you get for the price is far beyond the standard.

There are a handful of other places in the souks that can provide this service, one or two of them smaller and arguably more grassroots. But I know of no other that will guarantee shipping worldwide, which is why Tazi is first on my own shortlist of stops – first for Christmas gifts, then for my own closet – when I return to Marrakech in November.

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