We owe him the feminine tuxedo, the Mondrian dress and the iconic fragrance “Opium”. Although, the French fashion designer was inspired by art, culture, and street fashion, he found his heaven not in Paris, but in faraway Morocco.
Yves Saint Laurent had two younger sisters and it was for them, as well as his mother, that he designed his first dresses when he was still a teenager. It seems that from the very beginning of his life, he knew what path he would take. In 1953, at the tender age of just 17, he left his hometown, Oran, and went to Paris, taking with him just selected sketches and drawings. There, he was introduced to Christian Dior, who employed him at his fashion house. With time, Laurent’s ambitions and talent led him to open his own fashion empire. Saint Laurent achieved his greatest successes in the 60s and 70s, when he revolutionized women’s fashion by incorporating to it some elements of menswear.
The magical Majorelle garden
Although Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé never settled permanently in Marrakesh, it was this place that they considered their true home. The artist’s ashes were scattered in the garden of his villa, which he bought in 1980. It previously belonged to French painter Jaques Majorelle, from whom the garden takes its name. Majorelle, who came to Morocco to restore his health, bought this land, located in a palm forest, in 1923, and then built a house there – Oasis villa. The construction work was conducted by Paul Sinoir, an architect, who was asked by the artist to preserve the Moorish architecture.
Visitors’ attention is drawn to the blue colour (the so-called bleu Majorelle) that covers the villa’s interior and exterior. The story goes that the French artist got inspired by the ornaments of the Moroccan houses, which he admired during numerous walks around the city. However, instead of choosing small elements, that is, coloured pots, stairs or shutters, he wanted to paint the whole house in cobalt. Moreover, he brought to his garden various plant species from all around the world. All of this made his villa and the garden more popular than the paintings by Jacques Majorelle himself…
The most beautiful sanctuary
he garden fell into oblivion after the artist’s death. Fortunately, it was finally taken care of by YSL, who started nourishing it by bringing 400 varieties of palm trees, 180 types of cacti and many other new species of plants. The restored ponds were filled with ornamental carps, so that the host and his guests (among them was Andy Warhol) could walk along shady winding paths, admiring the charming cobalt fountains and footbridges. Today, Oasis villa, together with the Majorelle garden, is considered the most visited place in Marrakesh.
The garden is open thought the year, even during Ramadan. Instead of the city’s hustle and bustle, the garden gives us a chance to relax while listening to the cries of over 15 species of birds. It is worth visiting every corner of the garden, as in each there is a statue commemorating Yves Saint Laurent. The garden also houses Islamic Art Museum, transformed from the former workshop of the place’s first owner, and a cafe where you can relax with a cup of mint tea.
After some unforgettable moments in the garden, you definitely should go to the neighbouring museum of YSL which was finally opened, after several announcements, in October 2017. The author of this remarkable building design is the French architectural studio “Studio KO”. The building’s facade is covered in small bricks that are arranged in the shape of woven threads. The almost 400 m2 area includes prototypes of clothes from particular Saint Laurent collections, as well as his sketches and drawings.
The purpose of the museum in Marrakesh is not to present the whole retrospection of YSL’s works, however – this role is played by the museum in Paris. Nevertheless, at Rue Yves Saint Laurent you can admire the famous Le Smoking – presumably firstly bought by Catherine Deneuve in 1967 – or the safari collection. The museum also houses a library and a bookshop, allowing visitors to deepen their knowledge about the fascinating works of the French designer.
See in Marrakesh
An old city surrounded by a defensive wall made of pink clay. It is the oldest part of Marrakech. Medina is renowned for the Jamaa el Fna square, full of shops and stalls, also known as the heart of Marrakesh.
The Bahia Palace
Built in the 19th century. It is distinguished by the richness of its ornaments and stone mosaics. Tourists can visit, among others, the former apartments of the vizier.
The Koutoubia Mosque
The biggest, 69 meters high, mosque in the city, which was built in the 12th century. Its name comes from the Arabic word al-Kutubijjin, which means „a librarian”, and derives from the sellers of manuscripts who had their stalls around the mosque.
A place to buy Moroccan spices (such as harrissa, saffron or black caraway) and cosmetics.