Virtuoso Life - September/October 2017 - 138
Clockwise from left: Embroidery thread in the souk, snake
charmers on the main square, traditional babouches for
sale, henna vendors, and the palette of Marrakech.
patchwork of patterns: colorful rows of pointed-toe babouche slippers and ornate displays of sweetmeats, interlacing decoration in carpets and tile mosaics. Most notably, in October, the city's new Musée
Yves Saint Laurent will welcome visitors to explore the country's influence on the visionary couturier.
Opening the same month in Paris in the designer's historic couture house, Musée Yves Saint Laurent
Paris has been renovated as a replica of the studio where he worked from 1974 to 2002.
In 1966, Saint Laurent - just 30 but already designing for his own
appeared in his
for some of
V I RT U O S O L I F E
label for five years - checked into Marrakech's regal La Mamounia hotel with Bergé. After a week of rain,
they awoke to brilliant light filling their rooms and washing over the property's acres of manicured
gardens. They wandered the city, experiencing its dazzling colors for the first time. "Our passion for
Morocco began that day," wrote Bergé in his book Yves Saint Laurent: Une passion marocaine.
By the time the pair flew back to Paris a week later, they had bought a small house within Marrakech's
ancient walls. Saint Laurent could little imagine, though, that for the next 40 years the city would be a
second home and a fertile well of inspiration. He absorbed its visual sophistication: Rich embroidery and
vivid threads appeared in his collections, and capes inspired by burnooses and djellabas created new
silhouettes for some of the world's chicest women.
Marrakech's bustle is just part of its personality. Lush public gardens provide a quieter, contemplative side - places in which to retreat and luxuriate in peaceful, verdant cocoons. On their first trip, Saint
Laurent and Bergé discovered the little-visited Jardin Majorelle, which they returned to almost daily
whenever they were in the city. When the garden was slated to be bulldozed in 1980, the two stepped in
to purchase it, as well as the adjacent property, which included the house of Majorelle's original owner.
They refurbished it and christened the home Villa Oasis.