MY SPIRITUAL HOME
Have you ever found a place that really speaks to you? From artists to designers, ELLE asks a range of creatives about their favourite parts of the planet
A home away from home: five women reveal the places they’ll forever return to
JUDITH MILGROM, FOUNDER OF MAJE
I WAS BORN IN RABAT, the capital of Morocco, a beautiful country that still has a special place in my heart. Although I left when I was ten to live in Paris, I’m still deeply attached to my homeland. I think it shows in my collections, which are always infused with bright colours and bold prints. The colours of the Moroccan sky, the flowers, the smells of different spices — all these memories are still very strong for me. I had a very happy childhood with my parents, sister, brother and grandmother. My mother and grandmother made everything for us, from delicious meals to our clothes, and that is what inspired my passion for craftsmanship.
In preparation for Maje’s 2Oth anniversary this year, we shot a campaign in three locations, each telling a part of the Maje story. The first was shot by photographer Thurstan Redding with model Yasmin Wijnaldum in Morocco, chosen because it reflects my roots; my childhood.
I didn’t want to shoot in the desert, or in a medina, or even in Marrakech itself — they’re all beautiful locations, but a bit clichéd. Instead, I was looking for somewhere special, full of energy and colour; somewhere you couldn’t immediately identify.
When we found the Ouzoud waterfalls in the Atlas Mountains, a few hours’ drive from Marrakech, I knew this was the perfect spot. I felt overcome. Even though I had never been there before, it somehow felt familiar.
Thurstan shot Yasmin on a tree, with the waterfalls in the background and the rocks ranging in colour from sand to cognac, with splashes of green. Yasmin looked tiny against the wild landscape, and the setting – all saffron, pink and turquoise colours – reminded me of a Bollywood movie. It was magical.
This shoot will forever remain in my heart because it was created in my homeland. My heritage has helped define the essence of the brand, which is a mix of Morocco and Paris. My heart is deeply attached to Morocco, which is a part of me, and formed my earliest memories. It will always remain my spiritual home, even though, having lived most of my life in Paris, I feel Parisian. I’ll always be a mix of different influences, and that will continue to resonate in Maje’s collections. Judith Milgrom’s collections can be found at maje.com
THE ROMANTIC IDYLL SÃO MIGUEL,
STELLA DE WITTE, COLLAGE ARTIST
IT WAS MEANT TO BE A WORK TRIP, but it turned out to be so much more. The Azores (the Portuguese volcanic islands in the Atlantic) were the islands where it all started for Gus and me. We were very good friends already, but on the island we took it a step further. We had been given an assignment by Gus’s dad, who ran a travel agency, to go to the Azores to do some travel photography, and we flew to Ponta Delgada, the capital of São Miguel, one of the biggest and greenest of the Azores islands. We had so much fun discovering this beautiful island that we instantly fell in love with it. São Miguel is such a magical place: a surreal mix of tropical banana trees on hilly French-like fields; herds of black-andwhite cows under broad-leaved trees; misty, volcanic hills with vast crater lakes; natural, rust-coloured hot springs; and the botanical gardens leading down to the sea.
The island had an instant impact on us. After we’d finished shooting, we took some time off to explore. One afternoon, we were at the beach of Água d’Alto, on the south coast. We went for a swim in the ice-cold Atlantic as the sky started turning grey with heavy rain clouds. But we didn’t care, as that was the moment we became a couple. It was September 2OO7.
Eleven years later, we are still happily together and dream of going back to these magical islands. We have done a lot of trips together since, but none will be as special as the Azores. Artists Gus & Stella are available for commissions at gusandstella.com
“WHEN WE FOUND the OUZOUD WATERFALLS,
I FELT OVERCOME. IT SOMEHOW
THE FAMILY TRIP
the ALENTEJO, PORTUGAL
REJINA PYO, FASHION DESIGNER
SINCE HAVING OUR BABY SON Luka, time with him has become very precious. I’ve always loved to travel – to explore other cultures and cuisines, spending a few days or weeks living somebody else’s life – but with a one-year-old, the way we travel has had to adapt. My husband is a chef and I love cooking, so we always try to book self-catering.
Recently, we fell in love with Portugal. Starting in Lisbon, we roamed around the cobbled streets, taking in the museums and the food – especially Vasco Lello’s cooking at Café Principe Real (memmohotels.com).
After two or three days, we found ourselves longing to escape to the wonderfully rugged Alentejo region. This large area takes up most of the central and southern swathes of the country below Lisbon, and yet remains largely undiscovered in contrast to the touristy Algarve below it. The Alentejo has been described as the ‘Tuscany of Portugal’, with sleepy villages hidden away among rolling hills that extend west towards the vertiginous cliffs of the Atlantic coastline. Our favourite place there was São Lourenço do Barrocal (slh.com), a 2OOyear-old farm with beautiful cottages, just outside the ancient walled town of Monsaraz near the Spanish border. They were perfect for us, with a kitchen, living room and loads of space in the surrounding fields for Luka to run around in. I once considered studying architecture; it is still a great inspiration for my collections, so I love to stay in places that have been so thoughtfully designed – in this case by one of Portugal’s most illustrious architects, Eduardo Souto de Moura. Everything seems to have its place, and even with a one-year-old wreaking havoc, I still find myself calm and at peace here. Rejina Pyo’s latest collection is available at rejinapyo.com
THE OTHER WORLD
FELICITY ASTON MBE, EXPLORER
AT THE AGE OF 23,ItravelledtoAntarctica to take up a post as a meteorologist at the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Research Station. One of my jobs was to measure the accumulation of snow at a site away from the base.
A few months after I arrived, I decided to go alone for the first time. I coaxed one of the station’s elderly snowmobiles into life, up the steep local glacier and out into the snowfields beyond. Picking up speed on the flatter ground, I enjoyed the freedom of flying over the snow, letting my eyes drift across the undulating landscape. Solitary peaks rose above the snow’s surface, leaving graceful arcs and blue and purple shadows on the otherwise raw white. Overhead, thin clouds traced delicate curlicues in the sky. My breath caught in my chest and I let the snowmobile came to a stop.
I stood up and let myself indulge in the euphoria that had welled up inside me. I threw open my arms as if to extend them around the whole of Antarctica, feeling my heart expand to envelop the entire continent. I wanted to lose myself in its immaculate vastness. I had found my perfect place, my perfect match.
In many ways, that sense of elation has never left me. Two-and-a-half years later, when it was time to leave, I knew that it wouldn’t be long before I was back, even though I had no idea at the time how or why I would return. Felicity’s books, Alone in Antarctica (Summersdale) and Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole (Summersdale), are out now
PUNJAB THE GREATEST GIFT BY POET RUPI KAUR,
FROM THE SUN AND HER FLOWERS
I WANT TO GO BACK IN TIME and sit beside her. Document her in a home movie so my eyes can spend the rest of their lives witnessing a miracle, the one whose life I never think of before mine. I want to know what she laughed about with friends, in the village with its houses of mud and brick. Surrounded by acres of mustard plant and sugarcane, I want to sit with the teenage version of my mother, ask about her dreams, become her pleated braid, the black kohl caressing her eyelids, the flour neatly packed into her fingertips, a page in her schoolbooks, even to be a single thread on her cotton dress would be the greatest gift.
“ITHREWOPEN MY ARMS as IF to EXTEND THEM AROUND ANTARCTICA. I HAD FOUND my PERFECT PLACE ”
ELLE NOVEMBER From top:Morocco’s HighAtlas mountains; the village of Tanaghmeilt (near Ouzoud Falls) and ancient kasbah Aït Benhaddou
From top:Portugal’sPonta DelgadaCliffs; Miradouro Lagoa de Santiago viewpoint and by the lake in São Miguel
From top: The Alentejo’s Alteirinhos beach; São Lourenço do Barrocal and the village of Marvao