Half a century ago, inspired by the decorative patterns Jacques Arpels observed on his travels, Van Cleef Arpels launched Alhambra – a clover-shaped gold medallion resembling a Moorish quatrefoil.
“As an architectural element, it appears in almost every culture,” says Van Cleef Arpels’s current president and CEO, Nicolas Bos. “In jewelry, it’s just as adaptable.” Today the French luxury brand remains captivated by the motif, having reimagined it in myriad styles and stones. This past May, to mark the Alhambra collection’s 50th anniversary, Van Cleef celebrated nine new pieces with a party at the 16th-century El Badi Palace in Marrakech.
Among the introductions were a yellow-gold bracelet with rock-crystal quatrefoils and a diamond-encrusted necklace of rose gold and gray mother-of-pearl, the collective shimmer of which was matched only by the 10,001 candles lit for the occasion.
A new Alhambra necklace by Van Cleef Arpels.
To soak up Moorish inspiration of your own, follow in Van Cleef’s footsteps to the 16th-century El Badi Palace ruins, the tiled courtyard at the 19th-century Bahia Palace, or the muqarnas at the 14th-century Islamic college Ben Youssef Madrasa. For some fashion history, visit the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech and adjacent Majorelle Garden. Then stop and smell the roses over lunch at Beldi Country Club.
Get a taste of local flavor at La Mamounia (mamounia.com), decorated by Jacques Garcia, or El Fenn (el-fenn.com), Vanessa Branson and Howell James’s stylish riad at the edge of the medina. For a riad all to yourself, head to King Mohammed VI’s pride and joy, the Royal Mansour (royalmansour.com), where guests are pampered with the absolute best of Moroccan hospitality and craft in 53 private residences.
The spa at the Royal Mansour Hotel.
Before braving the souks, book the design world’s go-to guide Mustapha Chouquir (mustaphachouquir.com). He’ll lead you to Palais Saadiens for rugs, Au Fil d’Or for custom caftans, Chabi Chic for fresh takes on traditional ceramics, and Palais de la Ménara for Moroccan furnishings. Discover more of Marrakech on a one-of-a kind design tour with AD this October.