One Night in Marrakech with Symone, Gigi Goode, and Jessie Ware
When Nobu—the Hollywood glitterati Japanese-Peruvian fusion hot spot owned by Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro, and Meir Teper—opened the doors to its first-ever hotel and restaurant in Africa, every detail was carefully considered. The mystical and colorful city of Marrakech was chosen to welcome an exclusive and eclectic guest list, including the British singer Jessie Ware, drag performers and fashion week darlings Gigi Goode and Symone, designer Daniel Fletcher, and multi-hyphenate Layton Williams, along with writer Raven Smith, Pixie Geldof, and Jack Guinness. Welcomed upon arrival by camels and chanting sounds native to the city, guests were pampered throughout the weekend with entertainment, spa treatments, guided tours of the Medina of Marrakech, and panoramic views from the hotel’s mesmerizing circular rooftop. The weekend culminated with a star-studded Omasake dinner mixing both classic and locally sourced Nobu dishes like Black Miso Cod and Rock Tempura Shrimp before guests burned the midnight oil to music by DJ Camilo Franco. In between courses, rounds of shots, and impromptu tarot readings, Interview caught up with a few of the guests to talk all things Marrakech.
GIGI GOODE and SYMONE
ERNESTO MACIAS: I am here with Gigi Goode—
GOODE: and Symone.
MACIAS: Please tell me what you’re wearing.
GOODE: I’m actually wearing a Gigi Goode original today.
MACIAS: How long did it take you to make?
GOODE: It took me a good four hours. Right before the trip, I said, “I have nothing to wear.” It’s time to rip a skirt apart and turn it into something new.
MACIAS: If you had to describe your look in a few words, what would it be?
GOODE: “13 going on 30.”
MACIAS: What are you wearing, Miss Symone?
SYMONE: I’m wearing Miss Rick Owens.
MACIAS: But please tell me about the hair.
SYMONE: Oh my god. So the hair, I wanted spiky, I wanted crazy, and I wanted sharp. It’s giving punk, but still elegant, graceful, and regal, darling.
MACIAS: When you got invited to Marrakech, what was your first thought?
SYMONE: I’m going to the motherland. I am going to the motherfucking motherland.
GOODE: She’s been talking about how excited she was to be going to Africa. That’s a big moment.
SYMONE: The moment of coming here. Imagine growing up from my perspective and getting to step foot here, it’s so beautiful. The first thing I thought was, “I cannot believe this is happening. We’re going to the motherland.”
MACIAS: Now that you’re here, what’s the tea?
SYMONE: I’m like, “Girl, only this many days? I want to stay. I want to have a good time. I want to go and see the girls, the divas.” I want to go to different parts of the continent.
MACIAS: What was your favorite part of visiting the old city today?
SYMONE: I think seeing the people and how different it is here—how they live their lives and what’s important to them. It’s a completely different way of living and it’s so fun. It’s fascinating.
GOODE: It’s ancient.
MACIAS: We were on a tour together.
MACIAS: And we stopped at a rug store.
MACIAS: Describe the rug that you bought for her.
GOODE: I think it was the second rug that they rolled out. They were doing a whole show-and-tell, they rolled out this gorgeous, orange, turmeric-colored rug with black spots. I just couldn’t stop looking at it. I was like, “You know what, I’m at a place in my life where I can justify getting a rug like this.” It’s an important moment. I cannot believe that we are in Morocco. Right? I mean, it’s crazy that we’re here, and I just had to buy a Moroccan rug.
MACIAS: What was your favorite dish on tonight’s menu?
SYMONE: Ooh. I liked the black cod. And that cheesecake was good.
MACIAS: Did you try the ice cream?
GOODE: The sorbet was stunning. What was it? Raspberry? I can’t get enough.
MACIAS: Do you like smoking indoors?
GOODE: Feels like Vegas, baby. We’re at the Flamingo, mama.
SYMONE: Asking the real questions. I love it. I don’t smoke, but I guess I need to light up so I can feel what it feels like.
MACIAS: How does it feel being here in a full wig and a dress?
GOODE: I mean, to be transparent, we were a little nervous because the group that we travel in is two trans women, a black person, and a gay man.
SYMONE: And it’s not like we’re hiding anything. We are very much ourselves.
GOODE: There’s no hiding. But you know what? I was really pleasantly surprised by the hospitality and the kindness. I mean, maybe it was because I was giving them my money for a rug.
SYMONE: Exactly how much money?
GOODE: That’s for the after-show.
MACIAS: What are you doing after this?
SYMONE: Oh my god, we’re going to Paris.
MACIAS: Which show are you most excited about?
SYMONE: All of them. I can’t have a favorite one.
GOODE: I think I’m most excited for Valentino because we’ve heard a little hint about what the show is revolving around, and it very much has to do with our way of life and how we celebrate and how we play as a family.
SYMONE: It’s a dream come true.
GOODE: It will never not be a pinch-me moment.
MACIAS: What are your goals for 2023?
GOODE: Listen, it’s the year of the rabbit. It’s about elegance. It’s about refinery and elevation. This year we’re entertaining ourselves. We’re not doing it for anybody else. We are doing it for our own enjoyment. The people who we admire and respect just happen to be along for the ride and happen to be fans of us. I think 2023 is just Symone and Goode taking over the world.
SYMONE: For me personally, it’s finding peace in being who we are and elevating that.
MACIAS: I love that. I love this friendship.
MACIAS: Now I am here with international Pop star and kaftan aficionado Jessie Ware. Tell me, what were you just doing in the corner of the new Nobu in Marrakech?
WARE: I was having a tarot reading.
MACIAS: Was it your first one?
WARE: It wasn’t my first one, but it was my first one with Harriet [@harrietandthestar].
MACIAS: How was it?
WARE: It was really quite profound and exciting. She’s the most beautiful, passionate, and generous person. The fact that she’s doing tarot readings in the corner of a very noisy room and everyone is lining up, I feel very lucky and honored that she asked to do mine.
MACIAS: Did anything shake you?
WARE: No, it made me quite excited. I realized I remembered my shoes, I remembered earrings, I forgot my handbags.
MACIAS: A handbag?
WARE: Well, I got my fucking big one that I can shove pacifiers in, I didn’t have one like what you’ve got.
MACIAS: The Luar.
MACIAS: It’s not your first time in Marrakech, right?
WARE: No, I came here when I was 21 with my husband.
ERNESTO MACIAS: How has it changed?
WARE: I wasn’t staying in a five-star hotel then. No, the Medina and the souks felt incredibly the same, my experience is very different, we were 21-year-olds. It was very exciting then and it’s still very exciting. This time I’ve met such fun people. It’s been a really fun crew, hasn’t it?
MACIAS: I actually met someone at dinner who said, “Oh my God, that’s Jessie Ware. My favorite song is ‘Say You Love Me.’”
WARE: I’m very lucky because I actually think my fans have actually made me a much better performer.
MACIAS: In what sense?
WARE: Did you see the last show?
MACIAS: Yes, I did.
WARE: Touring What’s Your Pleasure?, I had newfound confidence on the stage, I was dancing, I had a whip. That was a very new show for me, a different kind of show than if you’d seen me previously for my other three albums. I’ve never felt more comfortable, confident, empowered, and sexy, and like I deserved to be on the stage. I do think that was through the generosity and support of the record, but also the energy in the room. Everyone in that room is willing me to perform and so I think I’ve decided to rise to the challenge, which is really lovely, but it’s very much down to them and making me feel comfortable on stage because they’re there.
MACIAS: Can we expect more of that sounds from you?
WARE: Celebration, dancing, a different kind of dancing, maybe more groove-led.
MACIAS: What is your dream collaboration?
WARE: I would really like to do something with Channel Tres.
MACIAS: He’s so fresh.
WARE: I wanted to do something with him on the last record and it didn’t happen. It nearly happened. I’d really like to work with him. Channel, you know where I am, you’re always welcome anytime.
MACIAS: Now, I have to talk about your mom because we just ate Nobu. What would she think about the menu?
WARE: Well, my mom is a huge Nobu fan. She loves the miso cod, so she’ll be very jealous that she didn’t get some. However, I did get her some argan oil in the souk today.
MACIAS: I got some for my mom, too.
WARE: Yeah, because we’re good people.
MACIAS: They sold us on it. Describe this Nobu in Marrakech experience in one sentence.
WARE: Quite raucous. I’ve laughed a lot and I’ve talked far too much. It’s been very fun and raucous.
WILLIAMS: Hey, bitch.
MACIAS: Hello, Layton Williams.
WILLIAMS: Actor, singer, dancer extraordinaire. We are here in Marrakech, my love, Africa.
MACIAS: How do you say “hi”?
WILLIAMS: As-salamu alaykum!
MACIAS: Wa-Alaikum-Salaam. How would you describe your experience so far this weekend?
WILLIAMS: Oh my God. Genuinely, I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been somewhere, and my loves, she’s well-traveled, genuinely, where you’re engulfed by a whole different culture. On our trip today, we were together, which was beautiful. It hits you. All senses are completely overloaded. It’s been a minute. It’s been really magical. I’m really grateful to be here at Nobu. It’s a moment.
MACIAS: Which was your favorite dish from the Nobu dinner?
WILLIAMS: What did I have? Asparagus.
MACIAS: Oh, because you’re vegetarian.
WILLIAMS: Vegan life. They’re also accustomed to vegans. I had a cauliflower moment. It sounds more saying it now, but it was yummy. It was purple, actually.
MACIAS: What are you drinking?
WILLIAMS: I was on champagne, duh. But then I transitioned. Oh, I’ve been shotting as well. I’ve been on the tequila. But also I’ve been giving a vodka cocktail. I can’t remember the name of it, we need to find out, but fruity, raspberry. I just love a sweet vodka cocktail.
MACIAS: Tell the people what you’re wearing.
WILLIAMS: I’m literally wearing chaps right now, but—
MACIAS: Well, they’re not just any chaps.
WILLIAMS: Vajazzled chaps. Maximillum Rayna is the moment and I wanted to low-key make a statement here.
WILLIAMS: I’m very aware of the situation in this country, and as a gay person, actor, activist, at times I don’t like to conform. If I’m being invited somewhere, I like to push the narrative. I know it sounds so silly, but it’s political. This piece is inspired by queer excellence. This designer is queer, I’m queer. You may not want it, but fuck you guys. We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.
MACIAS: What’s been the reaction?
WILLIAMS: They are gagged, and sometimes not in the best way. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way. But guess what? At least they’re gagging at something. Bitches don’t see this walking through their corridors every day. The world will catch up eventually.
MACIAS: What was your favorite part of visiting the Medina?
WILLIAMS: You know what? Genuinely, our group was so beautiful, and we really had a real and nice connection, a beautiful mix of different people from different walks of life. It was like being a school kid. I loved going to the place where they were selling all the beautiful rugs. I’m definitely going back on Monday to get something for my new flat.