We jostle down a dirt road in total darkness, turning at last toward a walled compound with heavy carved doors. A white-bearded man in a striped jellaba shoves open the creaky doors and we putt into a mysterious enchantment. Dozens of flickering candles light a walkway forward, lanterns swing from palm trees, bougainvillea cascades from rooftops, garden scents envelop me. I hear laughter spilling from open doors. A small boy reaches out his hand to lead me up the stairs to Meryanne’s home. That was 18 years ago.
After a few years in Paris as a lawyer and aspiring architect, this woman of vast imagination took off for Morocco to plant a new life. Meryanne sought out the local artisans to build a house from an abandoned foundation and with them designed every detail, from light fixtures to furniture to arched walls. Her husband, Gary, an academic ethnobotanist lecturing in England, came often to oversee the lush garden, the greening of their life together. She created a haven not only for her family, but for guests from all over the world, villas of splendid abundance and beauty, simplicity and charm, a gallery of her own designs and collections. She became the style maven of Marrakech, dubbed by more than one journalist the most stylish woman in North Africa.
In 2000, Meryanne gave me my first exhibit as an aspiring textile artist in Marrakech. She was the first to suggest my future in design and retail. Her friendship has shaped my life. After years of mutual inspiration growing between Marrakech and Charleston, Meryanne and I finally sat down last week in her garden and made our collaboration official. She invited ibu to join her new expanding endeavors in Marrakech, a perfect outpost, don’t you know?! And I invited Meryanne to be an ibu Ambassador, designing a whole collection for us, made by the women artisans of Morocco.
Meryanne Loum-Martin is designing the ibu Medina collection - scheduled to debut this fall. From the embroidery of her chosen city of 30 years will come striking caftans, jackets (for men and women-you guys been begging us!), shoes and clutches, charming napkins and table linens as well.
This October, look for Meryanne to visit Charleston for a splendid launch of this collaboration, inshallah. You will want to be there to meet this woman, a force in motion who spins a web of enchantment everywhere she goes.
But you don’t have to wait until October. The Medina Spring Collection was begun while I stayed with Meryanne - I tucked some of the new designs in my luggage on the way home like the jacket and caftan she is wearing here. You can see our first beauties of needle and thread in the shop, or have a look here.
ibu’s Medina Collection. Moroccan crafted, classic glamour. Inspired by a true ibu, if there ever was one.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker