Find a dash of inspiration at Morocco’s new El Fenn boutique situated inside Vanessa Branson’s charming 28-room hotel.
Awash with a vibrant glow, Marrakesh, Morocco, has long been muse and home to some of the world’s most creative minds. Think Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, whose Jardin Majorelle, a 12-acre botanical compound, holds court in the heart of the city. There’s Marisa Berenson’s colorful oasis, Paloma Picasso’s pared-down pad in the city’s Palmeraie area and Serge Lutens’ home just a few minutes away.
Channon and Bianca Roe, the husband-and-wife team behind Ojai’s lifestyle shop In The Field, were recently drawn to the North African oasis for a buying trip. In addition to one-of-a-kind market discoveries (all of which can now be found at their boutique), the couple returned inspired and refreshed.
Home base was El Fenn. The private estate was all but in ruins when it was brought back to life in 2004 by art curator Vanessa Branson (sister of Richard Branson) and partner Howell James. Each of the 28 rooms features art from Vanessa’s personal collection and is individually decorated in rich, colorful Moroccan fashion.
From there, day trips were made to Jardin Majorelle to experience the brooks, ponds, garden paths and exotic plants. They also toured the historical site of Ben Youssef Madrasa, which was built as a theological college around the 15th century—famous for its distinctive architecture, exquisite carvings and stuccowork and painted tiles.
Morocco is known for its cuisine, and it’s easy to be partial to Nomad, located in the spice quarter, with its fusion fare and rooftop views. Here, they also found simple, yet modern, locally made ceramic dishes, tagines and platters that In The Field imported and is now carrying. Across from Jardin Majorelle is a food, art and retail gallery, Kaowa, that serves fresh juice and vegetarian food. And for a taste of both European and Moroccan fare, the duo also favored Le Jardin, set in a romantic, hidden jungle courtyard in the heart of the medina.
And, of course, there’s shopping. Bianca jokes, “Rugs in Morocco are like seagulls on a beach! But it’s like finding a pearl when you find that perfect rug.” Each quarter has its specialty: fabric, leather, metal goods and, of course, the rug quarter. Opened last month, El Fenn now has a lifestyle store named after the hotel, co-curated by one of fashion’s greats, Women Management founder Paul Rowland, and hotel general manager and interior designer Willem Smit, who both live in Marrakesh. El Fenn’s store, which will double as a 35-person sit-down restaurant and bar with street access, stocks individual designers as well as vintage clothing and accessories, handmade luxury leather goods, jewelry, blankets and cushions from the Atlas Mountains, all in keeping with the property and its tony aesthetic.
Off the beaten track, the Roes explored outside of the medina, too, where many crafts are manufactured. A favorite was Akbar Delights, a specialty store that makes embroidered kaftans and resort-wear for women.
After a long day treasure hunting, the ultimate romantic relaxation is the spa at the Royal Mansour hotel, which has long been touted as the best traditional hammam in the city. Obtaining a day pass to the Beldi Country Club’s pool and spa is also a welcome treat. The Roes will be soon be importing Beldi’s glassware, from the club’s own souk, one of the few places where glass is handblown and made the old-fashioned way.
Channon and Bianca Roe’s lifestyle boutique in Ojai, California
Sustainability is second nature for actor and interior designer Channon Roe and his wife, model and actress Bianca. At their California home in the burgeoning bohemian capital Ojai, they buy goat’s milk and eggs from their neighbors, grow their own vegetables, and furnish their living space with a mix of vintage finds and locally made products. So when a neglected 1920s Spanish-style building they’d had their eye on became available in June, it seemed like the perfect moment to make their own contribution to the local landscape: a lifestyle shop called In the Field, stocked with the mindfully crafted fashions and furnishings—many of them made nearby—that the couple has lived with for years.
“We’ve tried to stay true to the way we live,” Channon says. “The space is very conducive to who we are and how we roll.”
In the Field
Channon and Bianca Roe, the husband-and-wife team behind one of Ojai’s newest shopping editions, In the Field, have created quite the buzz since they opened their boutique just a year ago. With its covetable lifestyle and home goods selection—that includes Matteo Linens and BernScott Pottery mixed among a curation of labels like Ulla Johnson, Beatrice Valenzuela, Agnes Baddoo, Pas de Calais, and Filson—the store strikes the perfect balance. It’s hard not to want to kick back and stay a while, soaking up the quintessential Ojai milieu the Roes have captured.
BOHO HEAVEN IN OJAI: REASON ENOUGH FOR A ROAD TRIP
Find out what inspires the owners of In The Field, Ojai’s most gorgeously outfitted, impeccably curated boho boutique…
‘TIS THE SEASON FOR ROAD TRIPS. And while Santa Barbara and Palm Springs both have their charms, for an absolute bohemian immersion experience, Ojai is the place to be.
Creative locals Channon and Bianca Roe have just this year opened an Ojai shop filled with luxe essentials they themselves rely on, and, from the look of the shop, we love these people. Sticking true to their local roots and keeping things beyond well-styled, In The Field is a Chalkboard wonderland. Below, Bianca shares a few highlight from the shop’s shelves and life tending to one of the town’s sweetest new spots…
THE SHOP IN THREE WORDS:
Dream in color.
BRANDS YOU CARRY:
Mister Freedom, Pas De Calais, Ulla Johnson, Black Crane, Apolis, Stormy Monday Goods, Quoddy, Sam Roberts LA, S Double, Soyer, Anda & Masha, RTH, Kathleen Whitaker, Agnes Badoo, Heathermarie Heaton, Cyn Gin, Catherine Michiels, Irving Place Studio, Materia Lumina, Matteo, Rachel Craven, Chris Christiansen, Fabrique, Beatrice Valenzuela, Filson, Somewear, Brown Sugar Beach, Imogene & Willie, and so many more!
Ulla Johnson, our boy’s hair, Waltzing Matilda, Solstice Canyon Almond Butter, Fella Swimwear, outdoor kitchen for summer entertaining.
OUR CUSTOMER IS…
GO-TO SHOP UNIFORM:
We don’t believe in uniforms. Be creative – break the mold. Be yourself, have fun – tell a story… and share it with the crowd!
PERFECT GIFT FOR THE SEASON?
Man: Walnut cutting board by Stormy Monday Goods, paired with Malman’s on Fire
Woman: Beek Sandals, paired with a great tote – beach blanket and Orange Blossom Splash
Child: Take them beach combing, because the sea is full of natural treasures
Wedding: Irving Place Studio Ceramics
House warming: ITF throw pillows – vintage indigo
WE’RE ALWAYS DRINKING…
Ventura Spirits, keep it local and spread the word. The California vodka that’s made out of strawberries, not flavored of strawberries. Made out of strawberries (not potatoes). Strawberry fields forever!!!
Dasien Spring, Ojai visitor’s walking map, raw almonds, sparkling water, half eaten children’s burrito from The Farmer & The Cook.
Nova Radio Paris, Stones, Dylan, Gillian Welch, but on Sundays, it’s always Breakfast With The Beatles.
CANDLE ALWAYS BURNING:
Incense is the new black; we burn copal in the store. Bodha is our recent exciting discovery, producing incredible incense. We’re burning ‘Ground’ right now at home.
Dekor & Co, Modern Folk, Summer Camp, Chief’s Peak, Knead Bakery, Azu, Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room, The Farmer & The Cook, Meditation Mount.
GO-TO SPOT FOR LUNCH NEARBY: