On January 29, 1962, Yves Saint Laurent presented the first show of his new label. He could never believe that one day, we would erect museums for him: one in Paris and one in Marrakesh. I had the pleasure of visiting the latter during our trip to Morocco.
The discovery comes in two phases: the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, where the most intricate and beautiful pieces of jewelry, dresses and documents are displayed, and the Majorelle Garden, which has been open to the public since 2017. There we can find the famous blue and yellow house built on an immense and spectacular garden where we can visit the memorial of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berger, his longtime lover and business partner.
“One morning, we woke up the sun was there. The Moroccan sun that seeped into every nook and cranny. The birds were singing, the snow-covered Atlas Mountains were on the horizon, the smell of jasmine was wafting in our room. We have never forgotten that morning because it decided, in a way, our destiny.” – Pierre Bergé, Une passion marocaine, Éditions de La Martinière
DESCRIPTION AND ENCHANTMENT
What you need to know is that Yves Saint Laurent fell in love with Marrakesh in 1966 with his friends at the time, notably actress Catherine Deneuve and Loulou de La Falaise, the woman responsible for the house’s accessories, and equally Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger. He would go there every year to sketch out his collections.
“It was at that particular time when I got to know Morocco and Marrakesh, particularly because I started to create things with colour.” – Yves Saint Laurent
Charmed by the souks in the Ochre City, the man who was born in Algeria in 1936 was now living a technicolour dream. The change is well articulated throughout the museum. At the end of it, a large photo of Yves Saint Laurent pensively gazing — almost as if he’s overseeing one of his collections. On one side, there are black and white dresses before Morocco, and on the other, the more colourful ones that Marrakesh made him create.
Since the debut of his Africaine collection in 1967, his creations were inspired by the desert and veer towards khaki, electric blues and vibrant yellows like the Majorelle Garden that he visited and then bought with Pierre Berger in 1980.
After that, the designer discovered the world, made many nods to his encounters with mythic places in Spain and Asia, and sought inspiration from painters like Picasso and Matis. He later returned to Marrakesh with an ode to his garden, the imaginary Voyage collection.
The setting for the exhibition is quite something. You enter in the large black room, where you’ll find photos and letters from the designer, all organized to his own timeline. What really got me? The first letter from the show, from a young Yves Saint Laurent (just 17 years old), asking his mentor Michel de Brunhoff, then editor-in-chief of French Vogue, just what direction he should take (fashion or decor) and where he should study. The artist’s quest is already palpable, and would follow him to some of the most astounding gowns ever drawn throughout a lifetime.