Travel Diaries: Aurora James of Brother Vellies Seeks Inspiration in Morocco
Aurora James, the founder and creative director behind footwear brand Brother Vellies, recently took a trip to Morocco to seek inspiration for her next collection. The country is one of many African nations where her ethically-minded shoes and boots, which are crafted from Kudo leather, Nile Perch, and other byproducts of the food industry, are produced by local artisans.
Though the designer had a business itinerary (overseeing production, designing, and developing pieces), her trip was not all work. James managed to find time to explore eco-friendly hotels, enjoy tagine, and to literally stop and smell the roses.
"I stayed at La Sultana, which is comprised of 5 different ryads that all have their own distinct palette and aesthetic. I took it upon myself to do some night exploring. The shades of cold grey and white in this giant stairwell really mesmerized me."
"I am in love with stained glass and couldn’t help but bathe in the light of these windows at La Sultana in Marrakesh."
"Because one flower is never enough."
"The ceiling is open with beautiful sweeping swaths of fabric. The entire effect is really surreal within the space. Those chairs made for the perfect place for me to get some design work done!"
"This is one of my favorite spaces in the world. When I was shooting my video for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, [for which I was recently named as a finalist], I knew I had to film it here—it is so beautiful and serene."
"I am constantly inspired in Morocco because of the attention to detail. If you’re going to make a gate why not make it a beautiful gate, right?"
"There are several brands that are go-tos for me when I travel. I love Ace & Jig’s amazing textile work and inability to wrinkle when it's stuffed into my bag. The most perfect spot and dress for some afternoon tea."
"All brass everything. Elements of this door acted as inspiration for my spring/ summer 2016 collection. I had a similar knocker made for my CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund application box. I am intensely inspired by Morocco and so happy to have the ability to produce much of our collection in Marrakesh."
"While in Marrakesh I felt compelled to spend time at the late Yves Saint Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle. It is an enchanting passion project brought to life over the course of 40 years that is ever-evolving. It is connected to the Berber museum which also makes for a wonderfully inspired afternoon."
"Just a stone's throw from the hustle and bustle of the souks. It's so important to have a sanctuary to return to after a day out. The medina is amazing, but hardly relaxing. To enjoy Morocco fully, it's great to have a safe haven and a few days on the ocean."
"Feeling super at home in this magical place. Well-fed with tagine."
"Fashion is the most amazing way to bring a fairy tale to life. This Ryad at La Sultana was where I stayed and it felt positively magical. It really inspired me. I love dressing to suit my surroundings—it's an escape within an escape."
Rosie Assoulin bag; Electric Feather jumper; Brother Vellies sandals; Sophie Buhai bracelet; Mikuti necklace.
"Secret life of plants."
"To know me is to know that I speak the language of plants and flowers. This rose bath made itself known from very far away—the fragrance was amazing."
"Morocco is a great study in patterns. From the carpets to the ceilings, it makes for amazing eye candy and design inspiration."
"Being a creative, I really enjoy finding places on my travel that are breeding grounds for creativity. It was nice to take a visit at the eco-friendly Fellah Hotel. It's a quick ride out of Marrackesh and feels a lot more like an artist commune than a boutique hotel. I’m 100% okay with that."
"Making new friends at the Fellah Hotel. I always wear my Brother Vellies Babouche in Morocco—because, when in Rome. It's great to take these traditional elements both in and out of their natural habitat. From Nouaceur to New York!"
"Within just a couple of hours I hung here with Diana Vreeland, milked a goat by the hotel lobby, and ate a pretty incredible tagine. I could definitely get used to this. It's also great to know that they are big supporters of their local art center and library. At the end of the day, as amazing as it is to visit and experience a country, I always feel one hundred percent better about my trip knowing that some of the money I’ve spent will stay in the local community. I’m a big supporter of eco-tourism in that way."