Virtuoso Life - September/October 2017 - 142
"Regardless of where you're
staying, plan for dinner on
the terrace at La Mamounia's
Le Marocain, where Atlantic
sea bass stuffed with Tafilalt
dates was a highlight of
my recent trip. Its scents,
setting, flavors, and local
musicians encapsulated all
the complexity and warmth of
the Moroccan experience."
- Susan Halperin,
Virtuoso travel advisor,
Nevada City, California
After presenting a collection in Paris, Saint Laurent would retreat to the villa and begin sketching
the next one in his bedroom or on the upper story, with its wraparound balconies and pitched ceiling.
He would then return to Europe with stacks of hundreds of drawings. "If the collections were sewn
in Paris," says Quito Fierro, secretary general of the Jardin Majorelle Foundation and a close friend
of Saint Laurent and Bergé, "they were born in Marrakech." Here's how to discover the city through
Saint Laurent's eyes.
Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech
Evoking the patterned weave of fabric, the new museum's textured, earthen exterior bricks contrast
with an interior that French architecture firm Studio KO designed to be "like the lining of a luxurious
couture jacket: luminous, velvety, and smooth." Located next to Jardin Majorelle, the museum will
feature an auditorium, restaurant, bookshop, and research library, but the highlights, of course, will be
exhibitions that draw on 5,000 garments, 15,000 haute couture accessories, and tens of thousands of
sketches owned by the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent.
Built by painter and avid plant collector Jacques Majorelle, and restored and replanted by Bergé and Saint
Laurent, the two-and-a-half-acre garden contains some 200 varieties of plants, including bougainvillea
that Saint Laurent used in his designs and more than 20 types of bamboo. For an extra pop of color, Saint
Laurent added brightly painted pots among the greens. Majorelle's boxy art deco studio, painted an electric
cobalt blue known as bleu Majorelle, houses the Berber Museum, Morocco's first, containing the private
collection of indigenous jewelry, costumes, and weavings amassed by Saint Laurent and Bergé over the
years. Today, with around 600,000 visitors a year, Jardin Majorelle is one of Morocco's most popular sites.
AT HOME IN THE CITY
Built in 1923, Villa Oasis was Majorelle's home until the early 1960s. The legendary American interior
decorator (and longtime Marrakech resident) Bill Willis renovated it, keeping, Bergé said, "Majorelle's
essence and spirit." It's a masterwork of traditional wood carving and stenciling, with intricate tilework
and cedar panels painted in Moroccan motifs. Exclusive private tours can be arranged for guests staying
at Royal Mansour and La Mamounia.
Menara and Agdal Gardens
From left: Rabbit pastilla, a
specialty at Royal Mansour's
La Grande Table Marocaine,
and Agdal Gardens.
V I RT U O S O L I F E
During their early years in Marrakech, Saint Laurent and Bergé followed local tradition and lounged
on carpets, brewed tea, and passed lazy afternoons in the shade of the palm, fruit, and olive trees of
Jardin Menara, a 220-acre park that dates to the twelfth century. While carpets and teapots are less
common today, Menara remains especially popular on weekends and offers stunning views from a
reflecting pool facing the Atlas Mountains.
Menara is just one of the city's many fine public gardens. The even larger Agdal Gardens (agdal means
"walled meadow" in Berber) date to around the same time, but sprawl nearly 1,000 acres. Located within