Moroccan Style after YSL

Frederick Lord Leighton's Arab Hall (1879) with help from architect George Aitchison

How does one do a Moorish-Moroccan interior after YSL?

I ask the question as I am in the early design stages of a small bathroom and searching for a theme, or rather a style.  The theme of the last bathroom (and a future blog posting I’m sure) was ‘a first class men’s bathroom on the Titanic.’ Female friends have quite simply requested that the theme of the next one (intended for guests) be ‘the girl’s bathroom’ but other than that have left the style choices pretty open.

At first I was considering something in the Chinoiserie line but then for reasons unknown I began leaning towards the oriental aesthetics of Frederick Lord Leighton. His is a house museum that I’ve never managed to visit but that seems to be looming large in my imagination, probably because the house has recently undergone restoration and photos of it have been popping up everywhere.

The great treasure of Leighton’s house is the Arab Hall, a symphonic arrangement of friezes, coloured tiles and metal work all surmounted by an impressive dome. This is not something I could pull off in a guest bathroom little bigger than a shoebox. However it’s not the scale of Leighton’s endeavours that puts me off. It is the observation that, at least as far as the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries are concerned, Moroccan is the preferred style of the ageing (now wealthy) hippy – as seen on Absolutely Fabulous.

This is something we can blame on the brilliant and all pervasive Yves Saint Laurent whose Moroccan inspired homes, gardens and collections through the 1970s cemented the style in the imagination of a generation of hashish-smoking, free-love seeking world travellers, among whom the transplanted style is a perfectly logical way to spend the pots of disposable income that seems to magically attach itself to even the least materially focussed of baby-boomers.

Generalisations, especially broad and sweeping ones like that one above, have a weird Karmic ability to come back and hit me. This happened the other day when tired and defeated by the hum drum boringness of contemporary bathroom shops – with their conformist European modern stainless steel tapware – I strayed online and discovered a seller of brass (and ceramic or silver) wash basins – all sourced in Morocco or thereabouts.  A few numbers rapidly entered and a good hard tap on the enter key and a few days later I took delivery of a lovely beaten brass washbasin.

The question now is how to progress from here?

I’ll keep you posted.


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5 Responses to Moroccan Style after YSL

  1. William Somerville says:

    Consider the Turkish room at Sledmere House for which the tiles were specially made

    This approach will allow you to get the scale and look you need in a small room

  2. Ian MacNeill says:

    Why are you influenced by the sexism of self-named ‘girls’ who want a bathroom to … what? Enhance their wavering sense of gender?

    Tell them gender identity is not a function of externalities, is fluid, so get ready for a tweed period and what on earth can they have in mind?

    Mirrors lit so they can reapply the slap? For whom pray tell?

    Do not encourage them in their perversion.

    Moroccan does seem right for a bathroom.

    So pleased you got the beaten brass washbasin.

    Back to White’s for the accoutrements?

    I do wish now that I had been a hippy (I did try, I just couldn’t).


    • graciouslyyours says:

      Mr MacNeill

      Our sense of gender is not wavering. Our make-up is subtlely applied (and yes, we love a beautifully crafted mirror). We might have the odd perversion, but on the whole we are smart, charming and well mannered. We make great friends and in this case, great clients – we appreciate the magical places that inspired décor can take us, we heighten the game for its creators. We know DLJ will delight us. Our second request? Well, we all know that anything remotely ‘Hippy’ is not a style option.

      • Ian MacNeill says:

        graciouslyyours Madam dearest

        Your sense of gender should waver.

        Humanity is a process.

        And too dull, limited otherwise.

        And doomed to disappointment and failure.

        May I suggest tweed and brogues with Fair Isle stockings for winter walks in the country? Honestly Madam graciouslyyours dearest, I think you’ll enjoy the sense of solid tradition yet liberation.

        When I was very young there used to be a perfume called ‘Tweed’. My memory suggests it would be an interesting contrast to the ensemble suggested above.

        But would it be tasteless to wear perfume whilst walking in the country in winter?


        One should just smell of perfume free soap, if I can venture that paradox.

        But then again, perhaps to fight nature with some parfum de boudoir … would be an amusing statement.

        What make-up would you apply for walking in the country in winter in a tweed suit with brogues and Fair Isle stockings?

        Honestly, one feels the need of the Lady Murasaki to guide one, doesn’t one?

        What perfume do you favour?

        For cold bright days I use Dior’s Eau Sauvage. I use Crabtree and Evelyn’s Siena for evening excursions.

        I don’t wear perfume in summer as a rule but sometimes when I need enlivening for a party I dash a little of Gillette’s Cool Wave (more or less witch-hazel) about my person or if out for dinner and in need of … oh you know, a lift, Imperial Leather cologne.

        Strange but true.

        May I share something really intimate with you?

        My favourite personal fragrance (if I can use that absurdly precious term) of all time is Carven’s Vétiver. I couldn’t find it for years – decades actually – and then one day I just fell into one of those perfume outlets and this young woman took the gum out of her mouth to say, yeah, she could get it in for me.

        It was alarmingly inexpensive but I was thrilled.

        Then I discovered that in about ten seconds it turned into something … musky.

        I looked it up on this perfume site on the web and they said yes, it had gone tragically off. Carven had bastardised it.

        As I suggested, life is a process; one must just continue the search for enhancing perfumes.

        Always be prepared to move on.

        As for mirrors?

        They have their uses.

        I M

  3. graciouslyyours says:

    Dear I M

    I remember a bottle of Tweed, boxed and ribboned and rarely used, in the bathroom cupboard at home when I was a child. Even then, while I may have stolen a squirt or two, I was never destined for a life in Tweed. Nor today would I ever consider its modern incarnation, Burberry (the horror). I wear Christalle by Chanel, a citrus chypre, of which Luca Turin writes:

    ‘Considered a citrus, Christalle is far too solemn. Considered a chypre, it has an unusual morning (possibly morning after) feeling. There is a business-like briskness that suggests waking up from a night spent with a gorgeous stranger and finding her fully dressed and made-up, ready to leave after nothing but a peck on the cheek, leaving only a cloud of Christalle as a contact address. Beautiful, and a little scary’.

    Christalle shattered 15 years of loyalty to L’Eau d’Issey, my first perfume love, in a single cloud and sharp inhale. Although admittedly, Issey, and now Christalle, share the shelf with a bottle of Clarins’ Eau Dynamisante – a little something for those moments when a manufactured burst breeziness is required.

    I wear Christalle in the city, when walking by the sea, amongst the pines or in the country. Yet, on some days I don’t wear it at all. Sometimes for weeks on end. Rather than Fair Isle stockings and brogues, I walk in silver, eco trainers. I prefer the lightness of the future rather than a weight of tradition.

    In regards to your pursuit of Vétiver and its memories , may I suggest that you don’t place your trust in the hands of a gum chewing shop girl, for there are a number of vétivers masquerading at the perfume counter, and not are all equal. But if you feel the need to recapture something of the past, Guerlain’s is considered the ‘reference Vétiver’, and Etro’s, Lubin’s and Annick Goutal’s Vétivers also receive high praise.

    But as you say, we should all be prepared to move on. Leave Vétiver in the past, and follow your own advice. Let your gender waver, and invest in a bottle of Ormonde Man, a sultry woody floral (imagine). I am sure it would prove tasteful company on your winter walks.

    Graciously Yours

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