Saint Laurent’s Eden
The enchanting Majorelle Gardens once owned by French couturier and fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent is a highlight of modern Marrakesh. The recent addition of the Musee de YSL has added another major sight to the already instagram famous site. A visit to the gardens generally involves large crowds wanting to enter and can involve long queues, however we had taken the off chance during low season, hoping we would still be able to get a chance to explore Saint Laurents’ Eden.
Avoid the Ticket Queues
Unfortunately tickets for both the Majorelle Gardens and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum cannot be purchased in advance, but anyone wanting to perhaps avoid the queues at the entrance to the garden and wanting to see the museum as well, should consider buying their tickets for both sites at the entrance to the museum, avoiding some of the queues. Adults are charged 40DHS for the gardens and 100DHS for the museum. Children under 12 receive free admission.
Visiting the Museum
Happy that we had jumped the longer queue for garden tickets, we decided to first visit the museum. The museum itself is a masterpiece of architecture, designed by Studio Ko. They created interesting, lace like patterns with traditional clay bricks, mixing it with smooth marble like a silk veil.
We were only allowed to enter the main exhibition after visiting a smaller gallery with changing exhibitions. During our visit we were able to see beautiful photographs of native Moroccans by Leila Alaoui, who tragically died during a terrorist attack in 2016. I thoroughly enjoyed the portraits of locals with their weather worn skins, opulent Berber dresses and faces that tell a life of hardship lived in the remote regions of Morocco. Jerome however did not share my interest in the photographs and so we quickly moved on to the main exhibition.
Passion for Fashion
Few of you may know but I used to work as a fashion stylist and personal shopper before starting this blog. Fashion has always played a vital part in my life and the museum therefore held a special fascination and attraction for me. I had been disappointed that we had been unable to visit the then newly opened museum during our previous visits to Morocco and Marrakesh.
One of the Greatest Couturiers
Saint Laurent was one of the greatest couturiers to have ever lived, his mind created an endless abundance of the most beautiful creations during his short-lived career. His most famous design was the tuxedo for women, first worn by Betty Catroux. His designs empowered women like no others and his modern, chic style was always ahead of the times.
The museum exhibits a changing selection of the designs that he created throughout his lifetime. A captivation retrospective including some of his famous designs, like the Mondrian dress and the safari jacket. Stepping into the exhibition room I was immediately engrossed by the beauty of his exquisite designs, the precious fabrics and vibrant colours. I would have loved to touch and feel the soft and silky cloth and of course to try on a number of the outfits on display. Especially one dress had taken my fancy. It would have been the perfect outfit for a dreamy holiday in the Maldives.
The permanent exhibition not only showcases his dresses and other clothes but also a curated selection of accessories, including shoes, bags and fashion jewellery designed by Yves Saint Laurent. Sadly the boys did not share my level of obsession with fashion and especially Jerome wanted a change of scenery and pushed us to leave for the gardens.
Jump the Queue
The queues for tickets outside Jardin Majorelle were now surprisingly long and we were pleased to just jump the queue and enter without any waiting time with our combined tickets. Not sure why no one else realised that tickets could also be purchased at the nearby museum as well. I was excited to set foot again into the beautiful gardens, that Chris and I had visited years ago and showing it to Jerome, who has always been passionate about gardens, especially Japanese ones, since he was little.
At the time of our first visit, barely anyone else visited this hidden gem in Marrakesh and the garden was almost deserted. At that time the plants, especially the bamboo grove and most of the cacti appeared to be newly planted, rather than having been there since the 1930’s when French artist Jaques Majorelle first began to plant the luxurious garden. It was due to Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge’s efforts in the late 1990s that the garden, after falling into disrepair, was restored and rescued.
By this visit the plants and cacti had matured considerably, the giant bamboo stood meters tall, reminiscent of the famous bamboo groves in Kyoto. The distinct majorelle blue on the villa and walls still created a distinguished contrast against the lush greenery and the pastel blue skies.
Not So Enjoyable
Despite the more mature landscape our stroll through the landscaped garden this time however was considerably less enjoyable than our first visit due to the masses of selfie addicted visitors. Everywhere we walked we had to stop because someone stood posing along the paths or in front of plants. I admit we took some souvenir shots too but they generally were a quick affair rather than the prolonged selfie photo shoots by the “instafamous”, that seemed to take place, especially around the cobalt blue villa.
The Berber Museum
The villa now houses the Berber Museum and also holds some of the aquarelle paintings by Jaques Majorelle. We did not enter the house, as we had to watch the time – we soon had to be at the airport in time for our return flight.
Masterpiece of Garden
Jerome absolutely adored the variety of cacti, especially the taller species and of course he liked the imposing bamboo grove. I have always also enjoyed the water features and fountains, they complement this masterpiece of a garden. OverallI was glad we had returned to the Majorelle Gardens and finally visited the impressive Yves Saint Laurent Museum.
Anyone interested in gardens should also visit the ANIMA Gardens outside Marrakesh, although they only opened a few years ago, they are a captivating sensation, created by Andre Heller and showcases some world class art, including Rodin and Andy Warhol.
Where we stayed in Morocco:
Atlas Mountains near Telouet
Sahara Desert – Erg Chigaga
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