Change the fashion industry, change the world.
Yves Saint Laurent's legacy in bloom with new museum at
Shops and cafes surrounding the
garden riff on its name, their signs colored in a
distinctive cobalt blue that became the trademark of
its founder, French painter Jacques Majorelle. But
while Majorelle's name is everywhere, so too is
another: Yves Saint Laurent.
Saint Laurent and his partner
Pierre Berge bought the property in 1980, 18 years
after Majorelle's death, saving it from the
bulldozers of an iconoclastic developer. The couple
nurtured the garden into its current state, opening
the nation's first Berber museum in the process,
creating an attraction which draws almost 700,000
visitors a year. It's a debt the city has repaid by
naming the adjacent road after the late fashion
Marrakech is preparing for
those visitor numbers to soar in 2017 when the Fondation
Jardin Majorelle opens the Musee Yves Saint
Laurent Marrakech. Those in the know suggest it will
be further evidence of the impression Morocco left
upon Saint Laurent, and the nation's understated
impact on the world of haute couture fashion.
through a discreet doorway on Rue Yves St Laurent,
the Jardin Majorelle is as tasteful as you'd
anticipate. It's a world of many worlds: bamboo
thickets sit alongside ginormous cacti; palms reach
upwards, while clematises take hold in shady
corners. Tying it all together is the ubiquitous
presence of Majorelle blue.
"[It's] a mix
of Moroccan garden and European spirit," says Quito
Fierro, the garden's public relations director.
Cultivated out of a palm grove bought by Majorelle
in 1923, the garden surrounded the artist's Art Deco
studio, built 1931. Eventually the garden took on
more varied botanical forms, influenced by
Majorelle's childhood in Nancy.
Saint Laurent, born in Oran, Algeria stood with one
foot in France, the other in North Africa.
Laurent and I discovered Marrakech in 1966, and we
never left," explains Pierre Berge, President of
Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent and the late
designer's business and onetime life partner. "This
city deeply influenced Saint Laurent's life and
work, particularly his discovery of color."
"Immediately he was influenced by the local fashion,
the local craftsmanship, colors, and really the
garden and traditional Moroccan fashion."
garden in 1980 bonded Saint Laurent to Marrakech
collection he did was designed and sketched in his
house while he was staying here," Fierro explains.
"So really, it's an exploration of Morocco and
Marrakech is his work."
Laurent's "Le Smoking" suits had little in common
with what you'd find in the souks, he took the
silhouettes of the burnous (a
form of cape) and the djellaba, translating
them into designs adored by chic women the world
cross-pollination will be on show at the upcoming
museum. Two hundred outfits from a haute couture
archive of 5,000 will be shipped from Paris to the
Moroccan capital. Alongside the permanent Yves Saint
Laurent collection will be a temporary space for
exhibitions beyond YSL, as well as a seated area for
concerts, film screenings and symposiums, along with
a library of 5,000 books on fashion, Yves Saint
Laurent and Berber culture.
could not have existed without the Jardin Majorelle,"
says Fierro. For one, the garden's profits -- when
not being used philanthropically -- are financing
the project, designed by Studio KO.
and Olivier Marty of the architecture firm say their
brief was for a building "anchored in both modernity
the building like one would cut fabric for a dress,
by composing curves and lines, in the fashion of the
working drawings, white traced on black paper, that
we discovered in the designer's workshops and
curvilinear shapes are near completion, set in a
brickwork lattice not unlike Tate Modern's
recent Switch House -- "like threads in canvas
or fabric," say the architects. Berge is
impressed: "Their clean, uncluttered style
recalls Saint Laurent's work," noting the firm's
shared passion for Marrakech, the region and its
Laurent once quipped that "fashions fade, style
is eternal." The Jardin Majorelle's assured
status and the opening of Marrakech's latest
attraction appear to show Saint Laurent's style
-- and legacy -- remain in bloom.
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