The new Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakesh pays tribute to one of France’s greatest designers

While almost a decade has passed since the death of legendary French ‘créateur’ Yves Saint Laurent, his legacy is still being celebrated, most notably with the recent opening of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakesh.

The breathtaking Moroccan city was a second home for Saint Laurent, who owned the famed Jardin Majorelle, which is located on the same street as the newly opened museum. Over the years, the designer and his partner Pierre Bergé spent many summers there, entertaining such high-profile friends as Andy Warhol, Loulou de La Falaise and Catherine Deneuve. Saint Laurent was also born in north Africa, in Oran, Algeria, with the result that he always a felt a strong connection to that part of the world.

The Musée Yves Saint Laurent highlights the designs he created in Marrakesh, showcasing an impressive collection of over 5000 couture items. There is a special focus in the museum’s main exhibition hall on 50 Saint Laurent designs inspired by the city, including the African collection, plus pieces that recall the traditional ‘burnous’ (hooded cloak) and ‘djellaba’ (robe).

The pieces are organised around five themes: Masculine-Feminine; Black Africa and Morocco; Imaginary Voyages; Gardens; and Art. Most of them have never been seen by the public before. Such iconic Saint Laurent creations as Le Smoking tuxedo, the pea coat, the Mondrian dress and the Safari jacket are all on display. There’s also an additional hall for temporary exhibits.

On the second floor, the library includes over 6000 works from the designer’s personal book collection, with topics ranging from architecture and fashion to art and traditional crafts.

To create a museum building that reflects the Marrakesh aesthetic, French architectural firm Studio KO used local materials, including hammered concrete, terrazzo tiles and red brick latticing. The building’s gracious, sculptural curves reference Saint Laurent’s passion for flowing Moroccan fabrics, while the lace-like brick façade recalls the warp of fabric.

In a simultaneous launch, a new Musée Yves Saint Laurent also opened in Paris at the brand’s former headquarters on Avenue Marceau, creating an eternal connection between the two cities that had the strongest influence on the late designer.

By Stephanie Rizk

Featured Image: Vue de la salle YSL © Fondation Jardin Majorelle / Photo Nicolas Mathéus

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Letters from the past#43, pages 28-29.