July 2018. We are setting out from Denver in a rented Jeep Wrangler, ready for our adventure. Our first stop is the picturesque town of Telluride. This small town was once a mining camp in the rugged days of the old West.
Today, Telluride is more like a hippy chic destination located in between beautiful scenic mountains. It was the perfect destination for us, with it’s Main Street filled with little cafes and restaurants, reminding us a bit of San Francisco with its up and down hills. Telluride is a very artistic place, with a great sense of community.
There are music and film festivals there, as well as the Telluride Arts District. As I was walking through the town, I came across an art gallery which was showing an exhibition called “Saddle Up!”, about old saddle rugs which had been made by the Navajos in the 19th century. One saddle rug from 1880 in particular caught my eye, largely because of the design.
I immediately went out to buy a book on the Navajos, spurred by my interest in the striking rugs that I had just seen. A little voice told me that I would soon be taking a journey in the company of the Navajos and their incredible history and skills, and this was confirmed the more I kept on reading about them.
After Telluride we continued on to a meadow at the foot of a mountain, near the town of Dolores. This amazing locale is called the Dunton Hot Springs Resort. I completely fell in love with this magical place. It was made up of old miner’s houses which had been restored in an authentic way, with an Old West Saloon, where you can still see the knife marks left by the cowboys of the time. I was finally fulfilling my dream that I had had since childhood, when I would play cowboys and Indians. There is a such a sense of freedom there that appealed to me, being stuck in the mountains cut off from the world, with no network and none of the constant urban distractions of my life in London and Paris. We would go riding, cover our faces in birch sap as sunscreen, and set off on ours horses equipped with cowboy saddles to the top of the nearby mountain. After 5 hours of riding at one point, we made it to the summit of the Lizard Head mountain, awestruck by the beauty of the views there. My eyes filled up with tears from the beauty of what I was seeing, and I couldn’t help but daydream about being in an old Western, waiting to come across an Indian riding through the beautiful landscape…
As the trip was coming to a close, I made the decision that my first collection would be named Calamity Jane, in honour of the American frontierswoman. I was so grateful to have discovered the Navajo tribe during this wonderful time in America, and I can never thank them enough for the tremendous inspiration which they have given me as I embarked on my own adventure with Maison Marcheval.
In order to thank the Navajo’s for letting me use their symbol of a star with 8 branches, representing the 8 major Navajo constellations, I will donate a portion of the money from each Calamity Jane bag sold to the Navajo reservations, so that they can continue to inspire us with their traditions and incredible artistry.