CHANGE UNIVERSE: Magazine Jewels
Marrakech | PeopleJune 3, 2008

Salon Arabe

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My friend, Adriana, decided to host a dinner in my honor.

She invited her friends and inaugurated the beautiful dining room at her Riad Nour. The table was adorned with colorful china from Italian fashion house Missoni, blue glass from Bohemia, laced place-mats from the region of Ceara, north of Brazil and surrounded by stunning Syrian mother-of-pearl chairs, light blue velvet sofas, heavily embroidered Indian pillows from Rajasthan, red Moroccan roses, multicolored rose petals and lots, lots, lots of candles everywhere -- mostly around the pool of the internal riad patio.

Hassan, the man who came to pick me up the day I arrived, bought hundreds of roses and spent the afternoon throwing their petals all around the house. He then took care of drinks, set the table with our help while his sister Latifa, the cook, took care of the Moroccan coucous, lamb chops , marinated eggplants, quiche (especially prepared for me as I don't eat meat) and other Moroccan delicacies.

Among Adriana's guests, a top haute couture designer Zineb Joundy, from Casablanca, former Comissaire de la Mode in France for Les 'Temps du Maroc'. Known for her intricate embroidering inlays with precious stones, and cultivated pearls on brocades especially created for her in India, her clients are mostly royal family brides, well informed Bohemian jet-setters who wish a different ready-to-wear look -- and hopefully me in a very short time (she's always very busy).

After Zineb Joundy's Paris-Dubai-Bahrain-London-Seville-Adis Abeba-New York groundbreaking shows, she brought a small suitcase with samples of her latest productions from India where she spent all of last month, especially for me to see. We all took a look before dinner (as she is also staying at the riad). A French burgundy velvet coat and a double faced vibrant brocade kaftan sewn in real gold threads.

Trying on those luxurious fabrics I realize how Zineb really understands the embrace of textiles, wholeheartedly marrying them, magnificently slipping from the most fluid to the heaviest with such an ease and whirlwind effervescence. But we must rush, the guests are almost here.

Adriana is ready. I am late as usual, taking pictures nonstop. On her way down to the stairs I ask her to please bring me my intimate underwear as I am still in the shower, some guests have arrived and I absolutely can't run down. Her answer is the following: "I am awfully sorry, with these shoes (Golden Yves Saint Laurent gigantic wood platforms) I can only go down the stairs. "Ok,"  I say, "Have Hassan bring it to me!" Her reply: "Hassan? Your intimate apparel? I am afraid it will not be possible, he's a Muslim, he cannot go around the house with things like that! Wear nothing, you are pretty enough as you are!"

Dinner goes very well. The atmosphere is involving, the music is nostalgically magic, wines, champagne and rosé are served throughout the evening. In front of me a gentleman tells a joke in perfect French; He wears a a very elegant dark blue velvet jacket similar to the ones I saw at the souq this morning at Beldi. After realizing I am from New York, he tells me he has been the ambassador of Lebanon in that city for twelve years. I then find out a few minutes later that my father grew up with his best friends in Beirut approximately fifty years ago.

Sitting next to him is his wife Margherita -- a Spanish entrepreneur with real estate resorts in Acapulco Mexico, dressed in the latest 2008 Spring-Summer upbeat Boho-style Ungaro crepe-de-soie with an emerald pendant from India --  and Youssef, who laugh, amused at the incredible coincidence. He now works in public relations in Marrakech but is originally from Belgium and once more as a coincidence, his parents and mine are today neighbours in Bruxelles.

These coincidences get me tired. I decide to switch company and to sit in the living room for liquors next to my beloved idol, Claude Challe, the idiosyncratic figure in France's musical landscape, a catalyst and visionary musician. Claude always managed to be on the cutting edge of youth fashions across the 1960s and 1970s, reappearing in the late '90s with even greater appeal.

He is sitting on the green couch next to a very nice and tanned middle-aged couple from the island of Palma de Majorca, both wearing impeccable embroidered white linen kaftans. The lady's expression is one of attentive surprise while Claude, transported, is elaborating with enthusiasm details about the Thai brothel's sex menus in the city of Bangkok. He explains how it's good to be washed, fed and taken care of. The lady turns to her husband and asks, "Amor, temos esto en la Espagna?" (Do we have this is Spain?) I did not hear the husband answer but most of all I was interested to speak personally with Claude, not necessarily about sex but about his spiritual and creative mind.

This fashion and nightlife entrepreneur, and new age guru finally is in my hands. He tells me with non-chalance and a bit of bitterness that the mp3 world of pirate downloads world took his stamina away. He confides to me that he has more ambitious projects, and that he wants to do films.

With the depth of my best of stares, a studied frown simulating intrigued interest and a wide smile I seduce him to speak more on this precious information firstly and unconsciously for my own curiosity then for the blog. Therefore I ask: "Claude, will you do a movie? What kind of movie?" I don't know if he really looked at me, but he carried on telling me the movie title: "Mister Sun". It's about the changes people, apparently angels, will do to improve it. It will be filmed in India and probably in Thailand. Proudly, with an enormous smile, he wispers in my ear almost as a secret that he invited the Dalai Lama who has already accepted to be a part of the movie.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama? The Movie? Claude Challe? The six degrees of separation? The rose petals Wow! So much for one only dinner.

Thank you so much Dri! (Adriana)

Joelle's picks:

The Couture Designer :

Zineb Joundy : Casablanca +212 63050627 -Paris: +336-86111508-Delhi +91 9818070212

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