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Patience of a Saint

Steps away from the lush site with which he fell in love, a new museum in Marrakech celebrates the work and life of iconic designer Yves Saint Laurent.


The entrance of the museum features red brick in a woven pattern reminiscent of fabric threads.

If you’ve been to Marrakech, you’ve undoubtedly visited the widely lauded and highly recommended Jardin Majorelle—the botanical garden and artist retreat established by French Orientalist painter Jacques Majorelle, which the late Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, bought in 1980 to save from development. Majorelle created the space to provide a respite from the heat, dust and intense energy of the Ochre City; and the refurbished gardens and painter’s studio do just that. Currently, the area is a construction zone, but in late 2017, the fruits of much labor will be unveiled: the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech (it will coincide with the opening of another, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, in hiscouture house on Avenue Marceau).

A consummate traveler, Saint Laurent was inspired by Japan, India, Russia, China and Spain, but fewplaces held a spot in his heart like Morocco—the country he visitedevery year to design his haute couturecollections. While he was arguablyone of the most prolific and influentialdesigners of the 20th century, hewas also the only one of his time to systematically archive his work.

The result is a library of thousandsof sketches, photos, costumes and objects that will be on display.

Both museums expect to attract fashion and art lovers, and hope to appeal to a larger audience lookingto discover the work of this premier artist. The Marrakech location is a work of art in itself, thanks to Paris-based architecture and design firm Studio KO, which also has an office in Marrakech.

Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty of Studio KO 

The building will cover more than 4,000 square meters and will house several rotating permanent displays that will be overseen by ChristopheMarti, plus a space for temporary exhibitions, an auditorium, a cafe, a library and a bookshop.

The uniquely modern take on Marrakech’s most prominent feature—the red sandstone buildings of the Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site—smartly arranges red brick in a pattern meant to evoke the weaving of thread, one of many references to the heritage of fashion contained within. Similarly, interiors suggest the sensuality and smoothness of the lining of a couture garment.

As Studio KO explains, the design “succinctly mixes two universes [that] we hold dear and know particularly well: Morocco and fashion.”

The museum was funded and supported by the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent—a public organization founded to support conservation of the heritage of haute couture garments, exhibitions and institutions that support contemporary arts. Since Saint Laurent and Bergé bought Jardin Majorelle to rescue it, “it feels perfectly natural 50 years later to build a museum dedicated to his oeuvre,” says Bergé, “which was so inspired by this country.”