Forty-four fashion creations that demonstrate Yves Saint Laurent’s love of Morocco are currently being showcased at the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech from November 27th, 2010 – March 18th, 2011. This exhibition at the Majorelle Gardens brings to life haute couture designs inspired by the country he loved.
Princess Lalla Salma attended the inauguration ceremony of the ‘Yves Saint Laurent and Morocco’ exhibition that was organized under the patronage of King Mohammed VI. The Princess visited the different shelves and areas of this state of the art exhibition that is sumptuously accessorized and accompanied by a series of pictures documents and sketches.
The Yves Saint Laurent exhibition presents a very-well designed interior of a Moroccan house. It includes reinterpretations by Saint Laurent of caftans (traditional clothes for women), Capes, Sarouels with Moroccan embroideries (traditional trousers for men) and soft furnishings.
Cloaks, embroideries, Turkish trousers, head coverings and flowing Moroccan style gowns; the creations on show make explicit reference to the Moroccan clothing tradition that inspired Yves Saint-Laurent. Their colors also evoke those admired by the artist in Marrakech: the orange of saffron, the blue of the Majorelle Gardens, and the violet of the bougainvillea. “This city led me to color,” Saint- Laurent often said.
The exhibition’s curator, the designer’s partner and collaborator Pierre Bergé, views this exhibition as a “tribute from Yves Saint Laurent to the inhabitants of Morocco, to the sky of Marrakech and its light.” The couple bought three houses there, including the one in Majorelle that now houses the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint-Laurent Foundation.
A dark, starlit room within the exhibition space that showcases Yves Saint Laurent’s pieces has a mirrored ceiling from top to bottom and creates an ambiance of luster. Christophe Martin the stage designer takes the visitor outside the house into nature in this room called “Color.” Another area dubbed “Ideal Africa” houses timeless items made of surprising substances mainly wooden beads mica and raffia.
Every footstep throughout the exhibition space, beginning with the entrance, makes one forget time and space encouraging the opportunity to get lost into a dreamland of wonder and color. While the exhibition does lack a detailed descriptive time line next to each piece and a detailed overview of Saint Laurent’s life and history in Morocco, none the less the inspiration of his work shines through. Some may equivocate this showing as an art- fashion installation rather then an actual exhibition as a result of its intense usage of free form set design, color and space that is of perfect elegance and scale.
A book of the exhibition, “Yves Saint Laurent, Une Passion Marocaine” with a symbolic snake bracing the cover, created by the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent foundation is available for sale and its contents are as beautifully created as is his designer clothing.
Yves Saint Laurent’s passion for Morocco dates back to his arrival in Marrakech in 1966. From that day onwards he considered Morocco his second home. It was Morocco where he first came across the magic of color and he reclaimed “when I discovered Marrakech, it was an extraordinary shock. The city taught me color.” In 1980 Saint-Laurent purchased The Majorelle Garden that was threatened with destruction and together they restored and saved it from ruin.
The Majorelle Garden, previously the Jardin Bou Saf, bears its name from its original creator, Jacques Majorelle, the French expatriate artist who was born in Nancy France in 1886. Jacques Majorelle was the son of the celebrated Art Nouveau furniture designer Louis Majorelle. In 1947 he opened his gardens to the public and during this time also painted a magnificent ceiling space at La Mamounia, a five-star hotel with gardens and the place where Alfred Hitchcock wrote, “The Birds.”
Jacques Majorelle studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nancy in 1901 and later in 1919 he went to Marrakech, Morocco to recover from heart problems. He built the garden during those years using special color of blue which he used extensively in the garden that is named after him, Majorelle Blue. Jacques Majorelle returned to France in 1962 after a car incident and died later that year of complications from his injuries. As a collector of unique plants from five continents Jacque Majorelle left to Saint Laurent one of the more unique collections of flore and fauna of this era as well as a place of inspiration and contemplation. Even though Morocco is no longer under the French protectorate, this originally French creation is one of the most beloved areas in Morocco.
The power of the blue Majorelle is long lived and permeates the essence of what it means to live and see color in Marrakech.
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