The city of Marrakech has long been known for its distinctive walled medinas, majestic mosques, and vibrant souks hawking amber pottery, colourful textiles, and traditional Moroccan jewellery, but it wasn’t until late last year that it also began to serve as a pilgrimage of sorts for fashion enthusiasts.
Unveiled in late 2017 to much fanfare, Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech houses a significant archive of the late legendary fashion designer’s body of work, and serves as a love letter to the city Saint Laurent held close to his heart.
“When Yves first discovered Marrakech in 1966, he was so moved by the city that he immediately decided to buy a house here, and returned regularly,” shared Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s longtime partner in business as well as in life. “It feels perfectly natural, 50 years later, to build a museum dedicated to his ouevre, which was so inspired by this country.”
It is equally a tribute to Saint Laurent himself by Bergé, who conceptualised the museum. He awarded the design and construction to Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty of the Paris-based architectural firm Studio Ko, entrusting the duo with the significant project of safeguarding the legacy of Saint Laurent.
Having previously completed a number of residences in Morocco, Fournier and Marty are well-versed with the city’s architecture, and it shows: the result is an edifice that is utterly contemporary without being out of place in its location, a terracotta marvel that manages to retain a distinctly Moroccan aesthetic while also somehow exhibiting the subtle glamour that characterised Saint Laurent’s designs.
At 43,000 square feet, Musée Yves Saint Laurent provides plenty to explore apart from the rarely seen collection of Saint Laurent’s work. It is adjacent to the spectacularly lush gardens of Jardin Majorelle, which Bergé and Saint Laurent owned from 1980 until 2008. The museum’s bookstore, an elegant throwback to Saint Laurent’s first ready-to-wear boutique designed by architect Isabelle Hebey, features oxblood-coloured walls, jewel-toned furniture by Olivier Mourgue, and Japanese paper lamps by Isamu Noguchi.
In the museum’s permanent exhibition is a showcase of 50 of Saint Laurent’s most iconic designs, such as the Mondrian dress inspired by the work of the Dutch Modernist painter Piet Mondrian.
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Photography: Nicolas Mathéus, courtesy of Musée Yves Saint Laurent