When Yves Saint Laurent fell in love with Marrakech in 1966, the city was still under the radar. A hedonistic escape and creative retreat where the designer could relax, recharge and gain boundless inspiration, it became his second home. He and his partner, the late Pierre Bergé, bought Dar Es Saada (“house of happiness in serenity”), overlooking the Jardin Majorelle (jardinmajorelle.com/ ang), in 1974. Six years later, the couple also acquired the garden — a one-hectare oasis of cacti, bamboo, orange blossoms and water-lily ponds created by painter Jacques Majorelle in the ’20s — and kept it as a public space to prevent it from being razed by a developer. (After Saint Laurent’s death in 2008, Bergé installed a memorial here.) Fittingly, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech (museeyslmarrakech.com/en), which opened in October 2017, sits adjacent to the Jardin Majorelle. Elegantly contemporary — 4,000 square metres of burnished brass, mosaic tile and gleaming terrazzo designed by the au fait Parisian firm Studio KO — the building houses a permanent retrospective of the designer’s work drawn from the vast archives of the Fondation Pierre Bergé-yves Saint Laurent. With its sun-splashed cafe, auditorium, gallery and event space, revolving art exhibits and 5,000-volume research library devoted to fashion, botany and Moroccan design, it’s as much a cultural centre as it is a museum. Its opening coincides with the renovation of a complementary sister museum in the designer’s Avenue Marceau atelier. “Paris represents creation, while Marrakech symbolises inspiration,” says Marrakech museum director Björn Dahlström. Sadly, Bergé passed away last September, just weeks before both sites were poised for their debuts. But having overseen every detail of the museums, he surely knew what masterpieces they’d turn out to be.
CULTURAL FIX: Allow time in your itinerary to take in the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech