Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Wandering Whisperer: Majorelle Gardens and the Yves Saint Laurent Memorial-Marrakech, Morocco

Though born in neighboring Algeria, Yves Saint Laurent always considered Morocco, and Marrakech in particular, his true home. Over the course of his adult life, he always maintained a second residence near the start of the Sahara and took refuge in Marrakech during the Paris anarchy of May 1968. Even when he returned to Paris to work in his atelier, the influences of Morocco always stayed with him, inflitrating collection after collection and informing a generation of designers on how to harmonize Berber and other North African cultural influences with European fashion design.

When the designer passed away in 2008, he asked that his ashes be scattered in the city's famous Majorelle Gardens, which he and his partner Pierre Bergé purchased and restored in 1980. Today, in the depths of the lush botanical gardens, you can visit that shrine, a simple column erected in a quiet and particularly shady corner of the garden.


The garden, about which I had written in my new book, Culture to Catwalk, is a true oasis of botanical magic, sprung to life from the very pages of my text. The sheer scale of the bamboo forest, the gurgling little fountains and quiet pools canopied with lilypads, flora so exotic and full of color that they seemed to be conceived by an artist's paintbrush rather than Mother Nature. Truly, if the Garden of Eden ever did exist, it probably looked a lot like Majorelle, so now, Eve and I have a bone to pick.

Not being a big nature girl, even I would seriously consider forsaking the world of the civilized, wrapping myself up in a YSL loincloth and taking refuge amongst the carefully curated bamboos and cacti forever. It is truly one of if not the most breathtaking of botanical sights I have ever seen (don't worry, I still love you, Central Park!).


Carved into the cacti and shafts of hollow bamboo, countless visitors have inscribed their initials, or those of their loved ones, which, to the Master Gardener must be a never-ending nightmare, but struck me (sap that I am) as somewhat poetic.

Wandering about the canopied and serene little world of Majorelle, it's no wonder that this garden was designed and landscaped by a painter and stood to move the heart, mind and pen of one of fashion's greatest legends of all time.

So here's a little Wikihistory (sorry, not in the mood to paraphrase today) for you about Monsieur Majorelle and his extraordinary garden:


The Majorelle Garden (Arabic: حديقة ماجوريل‎) is a botanical garden and artist's landscape garden in Marrakech, Morocco. It was designed by the expatriate French artist Jacques Majorelle in 1924, during the colonial period when Morocco was a protectorate of France.

Majorelle was the son of the Art Nouveau ébéniste of Nancy, Louis Majorelle. Though Majorelle's gentlemanly orientalist watercolors are largely forgotten today (many are preserved in the villa's collection) the gardens he created is his creative masterpiece. The special shade of bold cobalt blue which he used extensively in the garden and its buildings is named after him, bleu Majorelle—Majorelle Blue.

The garden hosts more than 15 bird species, which can be found only in the area of North Africa. It has many fountains, and a notable collection of cacti.

The garden has been open to the public since 1947. Since 1980 the garden has been owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé. After Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 his ashes were scattered in the Majorelle Garden. The garden also houses the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech, whose collection includes North African textiles from Saint-Laurent's personal collection as well as ceramics, jewelry, and paintings by Majorelle.


Nadia said...

 Fab, love Morocco had no idea about this, cant wait to visit next time!

Pelayo said...


WMS said...

 What beautiful images!! Actually visiting Morocco in November when I will be walking through the Sahara for charity, but luckily we get one R&R day at the end of the trip so I will definitely be visiting this beautiful garden.- WMS.www.wardrobeofamillionairestudent.com

mamma whiperer said...

 breathtaking garden!  Love the Majorelle Blue!  Cannot wait to go to Marrakech this summer!