Tempus takes a look inside the former Morocco home of the legendary Yves Saint Laurent
With incredible interiors and sprawling Marjorelle Garden, The YSL Museum is a dreamy design destination
"Marrakech taught me colour,” Yves Saint Laurent once said. The late, great couturier would go on to purchase a private residence in the medina and eventually have his ashes scattered there, such was the impact of the Morocco capital on him. For a designer who invented so many things we now take for granted, from tailored trouser suits for women to the concept of black as a colour, it is striking to note the influence of a country he first visited in 1966.
The colour and clamour of Marrakech started to infiltrate his designs, which became decidedly more vibrant as he spent more time in the Moroccan city. Much inspiration came from Jardin Majorelle, an exquisite garden hidden within the hustle of the fabled Red City. Indeed, so struck were Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé with the garden and the adjacent Villa Oasis – previously owned by French painter Jacques Majorelle – that, in 1980, when they heard it was to be sold and replaced by a hotel, they decided to buy it.
While the villa remains private – its interiors are a closely guarded secret – Saint Laurent opened up the gardens to the public, giving others outside his exclusive sphere the chance to experience the magic of the colourful space. As a designer who established his aesthetic via expensive, one-of-a-kind couture pieces, but whose legacy is largely based on mass-produced, ready-to-wear fashion, it’s fitting that his approach to the Majorelle estate is the same – the crowning jewel of Villa Oasis remains the experience of a small handful of lucky visitors, but the gardens are inclusive of all.
The grounds are now home to the Musée Yves Saint Laurent which opened in late 2017 with exhibitions on the designer, as well as Jacques Majorelle and Moroccan artists. I first visited Jardin Majorelle five years ago and, falling under the same spell that captured Saint Laurent, have returned four times since. While I have remained captivated by the gardens, I have never been able to enter Villa Oasis... until now, thanks to Four Seasons. >>
The Four Seasons Extraordinary Experiences Collection is a self-coined Invitation to Adventure on behalf of the luxury hotel group, which promises exclusive, customised local experiences at all its properties around the world. In Marrakech, the extraordinary experience is a private tour of the city’s best kept-secret, Villa Oasis. I booked my flight.
We were not allowed to take photos or reveal too much about the interior of the villa, but suffice to say it is an architectural masterpiece and one of the most intimate tributes to an icon it is possible to encounter. The outing also included a private tour of the Musée YSL and a leisurely lunch at the hotel with each of the five courses themed around Saint Laurent’s designs. It’s a considered and compelling package and I’d recommend it wholeheartedly – if you are a serious fashion follower, it’s breathtaking.
As the future of luxury becomes more about experience than acquisition, it’s this kind exclusive opportunity that will make brands stand out. At its heart, the true meaning of luxury has always been status, whether we like to admit it or not, and the Four Seasons has skilfully recognised that – in the most discreet and elegant way.