WITH STILL OVER A YEAR TO GO UNTIL THE NEW MUSÉE YVES SAINT LAURENT opens in Marrakech, there's still over a year to wait until we can personally glimpse such creations as Catherine Deneuve's Belle de Jour dress or Naomi Campbell's Vincent van Gogh jacket. Until then, the neighboring Jardin Majorelle should more than satisfy.
Two distinct chapters comprise the garden's history. It was first the project of artist Jacques Majorelle, who cultivated what was originally a four-acre plot of land. A "passionate amateur botanist", he introduced cacti, palm trees, jasmine, weeping willows, bamboo, agaves, cypress, bougainvilleas and ferns, among other plant varieties from different continents, all around a villa he painted in vivid hues. His distinct ultramarine is today referred to as "Majorelle blue".
Following Majorelle's death in 1962, the garden fell to disrepair, set to be converted into a hotel complex. Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé were on their first visit to Marrakech when they discovered it. "We were seduced by this oasis where colours used by Matisse were mixed with those of nature." wrote Bergé in Une passion marocaine. "When we heard that the garden was to be sold and replaced by a hotel, we did everything we could to stop that project from happening. This is how we eventually became owners of the garden and of the villa."
The pair named the site Villa Oasis, appropriately for the inspiration it would provide Saint Laurent for the rest of his life. And while it in fact sits on the border of a palm oasis, there's a lot of artistry sown into the garden and grounds, painting it not only with color but with shadows, sunshine, abundance and escape.
Jardin Majorelle, Rue Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakech. jardinmajorelle.com Photos by Lady San Pedro.
VILLA OASIS IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF ESSAYS ABOUT MARRAKECH.
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