DESIGNER ALESSANDRA LIPPINI, SPOTLIGHTS A LIFE OF PASSION
Ministero Del Gusto – Marrakech Morocco
My appointment with Italian designer Alessandra Lippini was for 11 o’clock. After breakfast on the terrace in the lush gardens of my hotel in the Palmeraie, I set off for the drive to the the Medina of Marrakech. I parked the car at the entry to the Mouassine area of the Medina and would make my way to her gallery by foot using the directions she had sent me to navigate my way through the maze of the Medina. I plunged into the dizzying chaos of the souks, past stalls filled with baskets of spices, colorful rugs, rows of pointy leather slippers called ‘babouches’, ceramics and brass lanterns, I stopped after a few false turns in the labyrinthine alleys to reread once again Alessandra’s instructions on my iphone. The look of frustration on my face made it clear to anyone near me that I was hopelessly lost. When I was approached by an old man with leathery skin and sad brown eyes I tried to explain that I was searching for the gallery ‘Ministero del Gusto’. Knowingly he nodded his head and motioned for me to follow him as he lead me to plain brown wooden door bearing a small brass disc the size of silver dollar marked “MG”.
I entered an unexpected, cavernous world of shapes and forms, colors and materials, light and shade, paintings and sculptures, unusual objects, vintage and original pieces of furniture. Standing next to an interior pool, I looked up to see a patch of blue sky and sunshine filtering through an opening in the roof. Born in the ancient city of Bologna, a cultural and artistic hub that boasts the oldest university in the world founded in 1088, Alessandra Lippini, a former editor of Vogue Italy, arrived in Marrakech via Mexico where for several years she had been splitting her time with her homeland. Arriving in Marrakech in the early 1990s for a photo shoot for the Italian fashion brand Etro, she fell under the charm of the fabled Red City, immortalized for fashionistas by Yves Saint Laurent. “It was,” she says, “a fascinating, mad, magical, world”, where she mixed, she says, “with the old guard of artists and designers who had arrived in the 1960s and 1970s – interior designer Bill Willis, antiques dealer Adolfo de Velasco and my friend Giancarlo at his famous Trattoria”. On the advice of a friend she bought a house and started decorating and designing its furniture and so began her transformation from fashion editor to home designer. In 1998, with her partner Fabrizio Bizzarri they opened Ministero del Gusto an art gallery/boutique/showcase for their distinctive designs and vintage pieces of furniture.
Today, Alessandra has rekindled her passion for clothing design. For over forty years she has lovingly collected masterpieces from designers such as Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent, Azzedine Alaia, Valentino, Paco Rabanne, Lanvin, Stephen Sprouse for Andy Warhol and jewelry from Schiapparelli. This extraordinary collection of vintage pieces is displayed in the gallery. “I have loved fashion since I was a young girl and would marvel at my grandmother’s wardrobe,” she tells me. “Each piece in my collection has a special richness”. As I close the door to the gallery and step back into the bustle of the souk not worrying now about whether or not I’ll find my way out, I have a memory of myself as a young girl in Philadelphia dreaming of adventure and exotic places and feeling a restlessness that lead me to Paris. I think about a compatriot of Alessandra, Frederico Fellini, who said wisely that ” there is no end and no beginning. There is only the passion of life.”