Talitha Getty is probably best remembered for an iconic photograph taken on a roof-top in Marrakesh, Morocco in January 1969 by Patrick Lichfield (1939–2005). With her hooded husband in the background, this image (now part of the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London) portrayed her in a slightly anxious, crouching pose, wearing a multi-coloured kaftan, white harem pants and white and cream boots.
The look seemed stylishly to typify the hippie fashion of the time and became a model over the years for what, more recently, has been referred to variously as “hippie chic”, “boho-chic” and even “Talitha Getty chic”. Although, in her lifetime, Talitha Getty, who was only thirty when she died, was not much known to a wider public, fashion gurus of the late 20th and early 21st centuries have often written of her and Marrakesh (a major destination for hippies in the late 1960s, as illustrated by the 1969 song, “Marrakesh Express” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) as virtually synonymous.
Each time I revisit “Moroccan Wakeup” I’m dreamily inspired. Yves Saint Laurent once called Marrakesh, Morocco the “Venice of Morocco.” What the noted French fashion designer was probably referring to was Marrakesh, Morocco’s capacity to inspire the wildest flights of imagination. From its earliest days as the desert capital of the great Berber empire to more recent times when the ancient city lured globetrotting hippies to look at the world through a sunset in their eyes (to paraphrase Crosby, Stills and Nash), Marrakesh, Morocco has exercised a timeless allure.
Ever wondered how the bedrooms are laid out in a working harem? Visit the Bahia Palace, a 19th century palace where the grand vizier of Morocco’s sultan kept his many concubines. Each of the ladies had her own bedroom around a two acre gardened courtyard. In 2012, I was one of the fortunate few invited to attend hip hop producer extraordinaire Sean Combs birthday celebration hosted at Bahia. It is utterly visceral. Details to follow.