Inside Marrakech’s New Yves Saint Laurent Museum
French couturier Yves Saint Laurent first visited Marrakech in 1966, gathering inspiration from the city's striking colors and vibrant culture. Now, some 51 years down the line—and 9 years after his passing—a museum has been dedicated to his revolutionary work in high fashion.
A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.
October 19th marked the opening of Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech (mYSLm), a museum dedicated to the trailblazing career of French couturier Yves Saint Laurent. The former artistic director of the House of Dior and creator of his own eponymous fashion house was particularly fond of Morocco, having traveled there for two weeks every December and June to work on his haute couture collections.
Designed by Studio KO, an architectural firm headed up by Olivier Marty and Karl Fournier, the exhibition space—which shows 1,000 couture garments from the collection of Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris and 2,000 pieces from the Berber Museum in Marrakech—reads as an homage to both Morocco and Dutch painter Piet Mondrian—one of Laurent’s greatest inspirations.
As the Foundation says, “The facade of the building appears as an intersection of cubes with lace-like covering of bricks, creating patterns that recall the weft and warp of fabric. As with the lining of a couture jacket, the interior is radically different: velvety, smooth, and radiant.”
Located right next to Marrakech’s Jardin Majorelle, the building houses a permanent collection, temporary exhibition space, research library (with upwards of 6,000 volumes), a 150-seat, state-of-the-art auditorium, and a joint bookstore-cafe. Part of the permanent collection includes a showcase of 50 of Laurent’s most iconic designs, including essential works like his pea coat, Mondrian dress, and women’s tuxedo suit—Le Smoking.
Beyond the permanent collection, there are plenty of areas to explore. The theatre lobby exhibits sketches and photographs of the costumes Laurent made for ballet, cabaret, and cinema post-1950. Among the collection are pieces worn by Jean Marais, Zizi Jeanmaire, Jeanne Moreau, Isabelle Adjani, and Catherine Deneuve.
There’s also the photo gallery, a space that will be refreshed each year with pieces from a photographer who worked closely with Laurent. Currently, the gallery is showing its inaugural exhibition, Thirty Years of the Fashion House in Marrakech, with photos by Andre Rau that were originally featured in Elle (France) in 1992.
Looking to plan your own visit? The museum is open 10am to 6pm every day except Wednesday.
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