An exciting 2017 draws to an end. As we reflect back on the events of the year, there is obviously plenty to be grateful for: Our company Red City PR has become Morocco's leading communications agency with lots of new customers and exciting projects. The Project Soar charity organization has grown from one to 26 villages and now supports girls throughout Morocco. A new family member, the cool dachshund puppy Cicero, joined our tribe. A lifestyle and way of working that allows us to have our main base in Morocco but also spend a lot of time in Italy and Sweden. And of course all our amazing friends, both new and old ones and all the move in our lives.
So many talented women and friends.
It is especially the people that we met that made 2017 to a year of interest and substance. People who shared their experiences with us, opened up their homes, told us their stories, showed us alternative pathways and helped us to become better version of ourselves. In Marrakech, we have the privilege of knowing a number of wonderful women who lead the most amazing lives and whom we are proud to call our friends. We could even call them our Marrakech muses since they inspire us a lot and in this blog post we want to highlight six of these ladies and tell you a little bit about who they are.
Elisabeth Bauchet-Bouhlal, or "Madame" as we refer to her most of the time, comes from a distinguished French family who founded the casino and nightclub Moulin Rouge in Paris back in the days. Elisabeth's father bought land in Marrakech where he built a casino as well as the iconic luxury hotels Es Saadi and Es Saadi Palace. Elisabeth grew up in Paris and Marrakech and was friends with Yves Saint Laurent and also one of his first customers. The profitable casino has secured family fortune and her hotels are iconic destinations for the international jet-setters. The Es Saadi Palace features one of four Dior institutes in the world and also boasts the coolest nightclub in town, Theatero. Madame lives on the top floor of her hotel and her son and daughter-in-law live there too. She drives around the property in her golf car, keeping a watchful eye on everything that happens in her empire and welcomes all guests personally. Her hotel supports all major cultural events in Morocco and the Es Saadi Palace features one of the country's premier art collections. We got to know Madame because we have our gym at Es Saadi Palace and therefore visit the hotel regurarly. Elisabeth soon became the main sponsor of our TEDx-events. We meet Elisabeth almost daily and are so grateful for her support and friendship. She is such a cool lady!
Maryam Montague is an author, designer, hotelier, style guru and expert on human rights issues. She has written a best-selling interior design book (Marrakesh by Design), decorates the homes of the superstars in the United States, designs interior and clothing collections, is a frequent guest on CNN and in Vogue as an authority on Marrakech and design. When she is not running her chic boutique hotel Peacock Pavilions, just outside of Marrakech, she travels to some of the world's most dangerous places to establish project organizations and optimize aid efforts for the US government because her "day job" is to consult in humanitarian aid work. Maryam is both incredibly glamorous but at the same time an activist who wants to make the world a better place. Her latest initiative is "Agent Girl Power", a feminist clothing brand. It was also via Maryam and her husband Chris as we became involved in Project Soar, the charity project that we have now been a part of for three years. Maryam and her entire family have really become our closest friends in our new life here in Marrakech and together we try to save the world while having lots of fun doing it.
Marisa Berenson is the model of all the supermodels. The fact is, there is no one who can measure with her greatness, and yet, today, there are not so many outside fashion circles who recognize her name. Marisa was one of the the world's most famous photo models and actors in the 60's and 70's, and was the world's most photographed woman before Princess Diana took over. She is the model that has been on the most Vogue covers ever and she has been in over 70 movies, including "Cabaret", "Death of Venice" and "Barry Lyndon". She was one of Yves Saint Laurent's muses and he called her the "it-girl" of the 60:s. Vogue called Marisa to "the most beautiful woman in the world ever". Her mother was the famous Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and Marisa has really lived a cool jet-set life. Marisa is 70 years old today and still active as a model for her own beauty brand, Marisa Berenson Beauty. She is a spokesperson for Sofitel and regularly walks the runways of major fashion shows. Marisa commutes between her homes in Marrakech and Paris, and it was of course in Marrakech we got to know her. Marisa is a wonderful hostess who organizes the most spectacular parties, intimate dinners and decadent lunches, always with exciting international guest list and a sense of style and "old Marrakech".
Andrea Bury came to Marrakech to create a beautiful boutique hotel, the Riad Anayela, that she still operates as a highly successful Starwood design hotel. She is also the founder of ethnic chic do-good fashion brand Abury, that aspires to save dying craftsmanship around the world while creating great fashion at the same time. Her ethnic chic Abury collections are already international hits. She is a former model, famous as Celine, and a well-known fashion and tv personality in Germany. She is the creator of Fashion Talks and splits her time between Berlin and Marrakech. Andrea is also our TEDx partner and a dear friend with whom we have some new exciting projects planned. She is pure joy and all about making the world a bit better and a bit more beautiful.
Jewels is the fitting name of an internationally recognized jewel and jewelry designer from the United States who spend half her year in Marrakech. Just like "Madonna" she is only known as "Jewels", no one knows her last name. In the late 1960s she lived in Tanger, then a free zone for drugs, criminals and people on the run. Jewels were at that time the mistress of some prince whose wife wanted to clear Jewels out of the way. She was rescued by a bodyguard who smuggled her out of the Prince's palace and she fled the city in the middle of the night without any belongings. In addition to a number of famous lovers, Jewels have always been in the midst of power and has lived a global nomadic life. Allthough today she looks like a harmless little lady, she has lived a life that makes us want to write her memoars. When she does not create tribal-chic jewelry, Jewels organizes magnificent parties in her and partner Roberts home in Marrakech.
Animal rights activist Susan
Susan Machin is the top lawyer from the UK who sold everything and settled down in the rural areas outside of Marrakech. She and her husband Charles operate Jarjeer Mules & Donkey Sanctuary, a refuge for donkeys and mules. Abandonned, injured and old donkeys from all over Morocco come here for help, care and a worthy end. Susan's work has gained a lot of respect and she is now well on track to create a change in the animal rights laws of Morocco that will hopefully generate a more human animal welfare in Morocco. She has also given some 40 abandoned dogs a new home in her modern James Bond like luxury villa where we love to visit. Charles makes the most gorgeous lunches!
And then there were even more talented women...
2017 was the year when we befriended some of the most influential influencers in Morocco and the world, some very talented women who created their own power houses of communication. Yusra, Yasmina, Chiara and many more are the new generation of professional bloggers and PR pros and we are very happy to know them both as friends and partners of our communications agency Red City PR. Yusra is "Moroccan Musthaves" and Yasmina is "Fashion Mintea", both very talented and highly professional women. Yasmina was even one of our speakers at TEDx. And then there is Chiara Ferragni, the Italian super model, turned power influencer, turned CEO with some 11 million followers and her own fashion brands. These girls are really a force to recon with.
Wishing all the amazing women (and the rest of you) a sparkling new year and a fantastic 2018!