Inside the Yves Saint Laurent Museum
- Written By:Christina Valhouli
Marrakech taught me color. Before Marrakech, everything was black.
One of the greatest inspirations for the designer Yves Saint Laurent was the city of Marrakech. He loved its light and the colors so much that he bought an electric blue villa there in 1966 which he used as a vacation retreat. Some of his best collections were designed in the city. As Saint Laurent famously said, “Marrakech taught me color. Before Marrakech, everything was black.”
To honor the late designer and his work, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent opened this October, about 50 years after his first visit to Morocco. The museum is just steps away from the Jardin Marjorelle, a 12-acre botanical garden that was restored by Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé in the 80s.
The 43,000 square foot museum includes thousands of pieces of clothing and couture accessories, organized by themes that were important to Saint Laurent, such as Africa and Morocco; Imaginary Voyages; Gardens; and Art.
Some of the museum highlights include the 1965 Mondrian collection of cocktail dresses printed with abstract paintings of the French artist Piet Mondrian. The legendary safari jacket and Le Smoking are also on display. Throughout the museum, the designer’s influences are brought to life by accompanying photographs, interviews, and music and film extracts.
The building itself, designed by the French firm Studio KO, blends contemporary and Moroccan elements. The museum’s façade is made from a series of lattice-work brick cubes which are meant to evoke the folds of fabric. Visitors should also make time to walk the grounds, which are landscaped with desert-friendly papyrus, barbary figs and prickly pears.
Beyond the permanent collection, the museum also houses a research library stocked with rare books on fashion, Morocco and literature; a sleek auditorium that will host fashion shows and talks; as well as a café serving French and Moroccan food overlooking a reflecting pool. Don’t miss the chic bookstore, where the lacquered amber shelving is the same color as Saint Laurent's Opium perfume bottle.
Need more YSL? Then consider a trip to Paris. The debut of the Marrakech museum also coincides with the opening of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, located at the current headquarters of the Fondation Pierre Bergé.