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October 31, 2006

Are You Ready For Coutourism?

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Jennifer Crawford, 34
i>Profession: CPA/tax adviser

I come from a long line of international shoppers. My grandmother decorated her home with flea-market treasures from Dubrovnik (Croatia) and Paris. My mother had her suits and cocktail dresses handmade for a song in Hong Kong. I unwittingly continued the family tradition: Early in my career, the only time I ever had to shop was when I was on vacation, which usually landed me overseas. It didn't take long for my closet and home to fill up with fabulous foreign finds. Over time, I began to instigate trips focused exclusively on shopping: Hong Kong for Christmas gifts and jewelry; Morocco for dishes and carpets; Spain for showpiece leather; Paris for, well, everything else! In 2004, I relocated to Europe and added more far-flung destinations to my shopping repertoire: Mumbai, Dubai, and the island of Mauritius. I make it a point to buy something special in every destination; even a brief overnight stay warrants a treasure hunt, no matter how small the treasure. In doing so, I've accumulated a wearable scrapbook from my journeys. Better yet, I never have the problem of wearing the same outfit to a party as another guest, or of someone spotting my home decor in a catalog.

1. Handcrafted gold bangles
There is no shopping destination in the world quite like Marrakech. Many days, I have happily lost myself in the souks, accumulating a luggage- busting array of leather poufs, sequined babouche (house slippers), colorful djellabas, and especially exquisite gold bangles. I love the exaggerated haggling process, full of feigned shock and hands thrown up in disgust but nearly always ending in a deal struck and a small smile.

Djemma el-Fna square,
in the Medina section of
Marrakech, Morocco

2. Hand-embroidered silk shawls
I love Robin Brouillette's incredibly feminine, one-of-a-kind silk shawls. The silk is hand-dyed in big stone tubs with colors inspired by exotic spices and translucent sea glass. Then metallic threads are used to hand-embroider each shawl. Over time, the thread oxidizes, so the longer you wear your wrap, the more vintage the feel. Each takes about a week to make.

Robin Brouillette
www.robinbrouillette.com or


3. Handmade sweaters
Lusty, winter-proof sweaters in creamy, soft wools and a kaleidoscope of colors fill the stalls of Estonia, and they're available in every shape and size at reasonable (and negotiable) prices. Just head to the old town's Viru Gates, a favorite vicinity for vendors. You're sure to find a one-of-a-kind, funky sweater that speaks to you. I did!

Viru Gates market,
Tallinn, Estonia

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