yves saint laurent


Jardin Majorelle in Rue Yves Saint Laurent is not a sight to be missed when you’re in Marrakech, Morocco. Translated as the “Majorelle Garden”, the space also includes the Villa Oasis and the Musée Berbère. Owned by French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s, the garden continues to exist today as one of Marrakech’s most beautiful attractions.

Designed by architect Paul Sinoir in 1931, the villa’s design is a fusion of cubism and Moorish-inspired architecture. Moorish motifs can be observed in the arches, the tiles, and the intricate patterns in some areas of the villa. The exterior is enveloped in its signature electric-blue shade, trademarked as Majorelle Blue. In 1937, Majorelle began to paint the villa, the gates, the pots, and the tiles with this specific tint of blue. This vibrant shade is said to evoke Africa through the color’s strength and intensity.

This garden is a momentous task, to which I give myself entirely. It will take my last years from me and I will fall, exhausted, under its branches, after having given it all my love.”- Jacques Majorelle

Majorelle was passionate about botany and gardening and bought the four-acre property in 1923. He brought plants from his travels around the world and cultivated them in his property, creating a biodiverse garden with plants from five continents. Throughout the decades, his garden has been preserved thanks to Moroccan ethnobotanist Abderrazak Benchaâbane.

The property is also well known for being owned by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé. They discovered the place in 1966 and immediately fell in love with it. Due to Majorelle’s death in 1962, the garden was abandoned and almost demolished for a new hotel. Thankfully, Saint Laurent and Bergé bought the property in 1980 and restored it back to its former glory. They kept the color and design of the villa but renamed it the Villa Oasis (previously called the Villa Bou Saf Saf). 165 new plant species were added in 1999 accumulating to a total of 300 plant species in the garden. Saint Laurent and Bergé also opened the Berber Museum featuring their private collection of Berber artifacts.

We quickly became very familiar with this garden, and went there every day. It was open to the public yet almost empty. We were seduced by this oasis where colours used by Matisse were mixed with those of nature. – Pierre Bergé

When Yves Saint Laurent died on June 1, 2008, his ashes were scattered in the rose garden near the villa. A Roman pillar from Tangier is displayed there as a memorial for the departed designer. Furthermore, the street beside the garden was renamed Rue Yves Saint Laurent in 2010. In October 2017, Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent will open the Musée Yves Saint Laurent in the garden highlighting Morocco’s influences on Saint Laurent’s work. The building will be designed by French architecture firm Studio KO.

Yves Saint Laurent’s memorial

As a big fan of Yves Saint Laurent, I’m very glad that the museum will be open when I’m there in the future. Morocco is a visual delight for all kinds of creatives,  offering inspiration everywhere you look. It is evident enough from the way it inspired this masterpiece, the Jardin Majorelle.

Many of the things that we have now and take for granted are a result of cultural exchange.  Food, religion, and design are being transformed because of influences from one part of the world to another. Culture is a fluid concept that constantly evolves; it is not something static that strictly comes from one source. People began sharing their culture and taking from others as early as the first civilizations in the Middle East.

The post-war era of the 50s and 60s saw a re-emergence of cross-cultural influences in the arts. In the world of fashion, this was heralded by the legendary French-Algerian designer Yves Saint Laurent.

Yves Saint Laurent 2002 Haute Couture Retrospective

  • Sub-Saharan Africa

Yves Saint Laurent left the fashion world in awe after his Spring/Summer collection of 1967. Influenced by the tribes of Sub-Saharan African, he incorporated wooden beads, raffia (a type of palm tree native to Central Africa), bangles, and traditional prints with shades of gold, green, and orange into his designs. The silhouettes were made more westernized, tight and form-fitting, yet  these blended perfectly with the traditional materials. This was the first time a fashion designer had incorporated elements of a foreign culture into his own work.

Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture Saint Laurent
Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture Saint Laurent
Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture Saint Laurent

  • Eastern Europe

His Fall/Winter 1976-77 collection took inspiration from the opulence of Imperial Russia. It was a homage to Sergei Diaghilev’s Paris-based ballet company, the Ballets Russes, which introduced Western European audiences to Russian culture. Saint Laurent’s collection incorporated a lot of silks and Russian embroideries, and included the ushanka, otherwise known as the “Russian hat”. The prints and free-flowing silhouettes were taken from Eastern European Romanies. Earthy shades of brown, black, and red, and pastel shades of green, blue, and pink dominated the color palette.

Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture Saint Laurent
Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture
Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture Saint Laurent

This collection is displayed between 22:22-26:22.

  • China

This collection was shortly followed by the Fall/Winter 1977-78 Chinese collection. Cheongsam-like silhouettes, Mandarin collars, and boxy jackets from the Manchurian Qing Dynasty were notable elements used in the collection. The looks were also accessorized with the conical hat common throughout East Asia. Like the Russian collection, this one also focused on China’s imperial era and sought to capture the empire’s opulence through the use of silks and embroideries. The color palette of this collection revolved around rich shades of purple, gold, and red.

This collection is displayed between 27:00-30:00.

Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture Saint Laurent
Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture Saint Laurent
Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture Saint Laurent

  • Spain

His last collection of the decade, Fall/Winter 1979-80, was inspired by Spanish culture. One of his most iconic looks in this show is the matador look. Saint Laurent used a skirt instead of trousers and used colorful pink and purple silks for the ensemble while still keeping the boxy jacket and embellishments from the traditional matador attire. Other looks of the collection included black Spanish dresses with veils, lace, and puff shoulders. The predominant shade of the collection was bluish-black (as seen in the last few pieces)  except for the matador look.

The collection is displayed between 31:15-32:26.

Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture Saint Laurent
Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture Saint Laurent
Image from vogue.com | Spring 2002 Couture Saint Laurent

Like Boysen’s palette Tradition in Color Trend 2017, the colors used in the collection play an important role in their respective cultures. The designer who takes inspiration from these cultures use these colors and reinterpret them in his own personal way. It may not be seen as “authentic” for some, but culture is never authentic. It evolves and changes over time thanks to various reinterpretations by people throughout history, and this is what makes the Tradition color palette so special. It is old yet contemporary at the same time, therefore you can never go wrong with it, thanks to its incredible versatility.