The Jardin Majorelle and the Museum Yves Saint-Laurent in Marrakech, Morocco
By Lia Mageira
“For many years, the Jardin Majorelle has provided me with an endless source of inspiration, and I have often dreamt of its unique colors.” Yves Saint Laurent
In 1923 the French painter Jacques Majorelle was fascinated by Morocco and built a Moorish mansion in Marrakesh. Around it he created a green garden, a small paradise in the heart of the new city. There he created a botanical “laboratory” with exotic specimens from the far corners of the world.
The Jardin Majorelle, which extends over 9,000 m², is one of the most mysterious gardens in Morocco. Created over the course of forty years, it is enclosed by outer walls and consists of a labyrinth of crisscrossing alleyways on different levels.
In 1980, Yves Saint Laurent and his partner for life Pierre Berge, purchased the Jardin Majorelle to save it from destruction at the hands of hotel developers. The new owners decided to live in Jacques Majorelle’s villa, which they renamed the Villa Oasis.
They fell in love with the garden, so, a team of 20 gardeners was put in place, and the number of species plants was increased from 135 to 300.
Visiting the Jardin Majorelle
During our trip to Morocco and our stay in Marrakech, we visited the garden. It was a magnificent tropical environment, with a large variety of trees. Benches were here and there to relax visitors and ponds with water cooled the garden. Water lilies floated in one of them. Birds drank water from fountains.
The garden was intersected by four paths that created flower beds with tropical flowers. Apart from yucca, bougainvillea, bamboo, laurel, geraniums, hibiscus, and cypresses, there were more than 1000 varieties of palms and 1800 cacti in the garden.
Walking in this idyllic setting, we reached the main building.
The bright colors of Morocco
The buildings in the garden blended both Art Deco and Moorish influences and they were in intense colors which fit in the culture of Morocco. Bright colors like yellow, red, and especially the characteristic blue called “Majorelle blue” were around us on the walls.
In 2011, the Berber Museum was inaugurated on the garden grounds, offering a rich insight into the creativity of the Berber people, the most ancient of Northwestern Africa.
“In Morocco, I realized that the range of colors I use, the boldness seen in my work, I owe to this country, to its forceful harmonies, to its audacious combinations, to the fervor of its creativity. This culture became mine and I transformed and adapted it.”
Yves Saint Laurent
Very close to the Majorelle Jardin, the YVES SAINT LAURENT museum in Marrakech was built, a new building with a total area of about 4000 m².
It includes a permanent exhibition space of 400 m², presenting the work of Yves Saint Laurent in an original set designed by Christophe Martin.
Every year, on December 1st and June 1st, Yves Saint Laurent was leaving for Marrakesh for two weeks to design his haute couture collection. Morocco, which he discovered in 1966, had a great influence on his work and colors.
Arriving at the museum, and waiting with the group to get our entrance tickets, I had the chance to observe the building.
Its construction was simple and geometric, based on the couturier’s love for geometry. The bricks of the facade gave me the feeling of a lacy fabric.
Fashion, Culture, and Art
The museum is a dynamic cultural center. The exhibitions which are hosted in the space are related to fashion, art, contemporary art, anthropology, and botany.
The photography exhibition “Thirty Years of the Fashion House-in Marrakech”, presents photographs of Catherine Deneuve, the couturier’s friend, and muse.
For forty years, Yves Saint Laurent never stopped making his own style. His clothes belong to the history of the twentieth century. His “safari jacket” and “le smoking” accompanied the emancipation of women in all fields. But Yves Saint Laurent is also the last of the great couturiers, nostalgic for an era marked by the grandeur of strong haute couture.
In the Hall, fifty pieces were displayed around themes dear to Yves Saint Laurent: Masculine-Feminine, The Color Black, Arica and Morocco, Gardens and Art, and Imaginary Voyages. The creations were presented in a sophisticated space with strong contrast of lighting.
A voyage to the Couturier Universe
Christophe Martin’s scenography magnified the models in a black and minimalist environment. The models face the creative process of the couturier through an exciting audiovisual installation where sketches, photographs, parades, films, voices and music interact with the works and express the couturier universe.
The whole exhibition is a voyage to the heart of what influenced the designer.
Yves Saint-Laurent passed away in 2008, and his ashes were scattered in Jardin Majorelle. Two years later, the street in front of the Jardin Majorelle was renamed the Rue Yves Saint Laurent in his honor.
In 2010, ownership of the property was passed to the Foundation Pierre Berge – Yves Saint Laurent, a French not-for-profit organization.
In the artistic bookstore of the museum, there is handmade jewelry by Berbers who are the ancient tribe of North Africa, albums, luxury souvenirs, posters.
The designs in the books make a dialogue with artists such as Renoir and Mondrian. Imaginary travels to Spain, Russia, Africa and Asia… and costumes for theatre, music hall, ballet and cinema.
Jardelle Majorelle Find More Info
Open from 9 am to 6 pm Wednesday through Sunday
Last entrance 05:30 P.M
Yves St Laurent Museum website
Open from Wednesday to Sunday FROM 9 AM TO 6 PM
Jardin Majorelle ticket price Last admission 5:30 PM
Admission fee: 100 DH
Moroccan residents and citizens: 20 DH
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2 thoughts on “Jardin Majorelle: A Leafy Paradise in Marrakech”
Thank you so much for your comment! It is an amazing museum for fashion lovers. Unfortunately, taking pictures from the wonderful exhibits is not allowed. But, it is a great experience to visit the museum!
Thank you for this terrific article! I have a friend traveling to Marrakech this week, and this is exactly the type of information I was looking for. Of course, YSL IS everything Morocco – The colors! The patterns! Thanks for summing up exactly what a fashion lover should do there.
Cathie – a fellow GoNOMAD writer.