Style Fashion > Super Luxury > Inside Yves Saint Laurent’s secret Moroccan garden Date posted: November 7, 2011

Inside Yves Saint Laurent’s secret Moroccan garden

Morocco was one of Saint Laurent’s true loves and it is no wonder the man owned some highly impressive properties in Marrakech and Tangier. Swide peeked through the arched door.


 Judging from his rich life it would seem that Saint Laurent was a most passionate man; amongst these passions, Morocco. The influence is clear in his designs and it is no wonder the couturier would have spent some of his life on that cherished land. That love was expressed throughout his life, in his words, in his designs, in his actions…

His words often went back to his native Oran but more frequently even to Morocco; talking about one of his couture collections, in 1976: “[This] collection will be colourful, lively, bright. The fabrics will be woven like in Morocco, striped, like djellabahs, in wool. […] I don’t know if this is my best collection. But it is my most beautiful collection.”  Morocco’s name needn’t be pronounced for its influence to transpire; looking through the YSL archive it is present in numerous garments, from the obvious (hats like the turban or the fez and tunics) to the more subtle, perhaps unconscious, references, in the colours, fabrics, draping…

Beautiful draping on these dresses from the F/W 1969 collection.

Fancy seeing a fez on a Parisian catwalk? A look from the F/W 1979 collection.

When the djellaba was introduced in the chicest Parisian wardrobes. A look from the S/S 1982 collection.

Influence can come in small touches, such as this turban from the S/S 1982 collection.


Besides his own designs Saint Laurent was a collector of everything Moroccan, may it be garments of jewellery; this Moroccan passion was highlighted at the Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent foundationback in 2008, in an exhibition of their vast personal collection that felt like a beautiful tribute.


In Pierre Bergé’s words: “When Yves Saint Laurent and I arrived in Marrakech for the first time in 1966, we didn’t know this town would play such an important part in our lives, that we would buy three properties there including the famous Majorelle gardens, nor did we know that Morocco would become our adoptive country, our second home.”.

The properties he mentions are definitely fitting to the grand lifestyle one would rightly associate them with. One of them, in Marrakech, once was the retreat of French painter Jacques Majorelle; Saint Laurent and Bergé bought it back in 1980. The mesmerising blue in a sea of greens is one of Morocco’s must-sees for visitors who now get to explore its lush gardens. A visual experience with shades so vibrant it seems fitting they should have influenced such a master of colour and texture.

Inside the Majorelle Gardens.

A colour was named after this very unique shade of blue, Majorelle blue.


Another property, this one in Tangier, more recently came to attention when famous auctioneer Christies put it on the luxury property market a few months ago: Villa Mabrouka otherwise known as the Yves Saint Laurent Estate, with price upon request. 

“Refined interior design by renowned decorator Jacques Grange accentuates an atmosphere of impressive space and architectural clarity. Beautiful gardens surround the main house, which opens through a Moorish-style entry flowing into a lobby with white Moroccan arcades.”

The house as seen by the interior designer: “It was based on the house of an eccentric Englishman who moved to Tangier in the 1950s. Yves wanted chintz, with each room a single colour – a blue room, a yellow room. It was like decorating a house for people out of a play by Tennessee Williams.

Owned by the YSL/Bergé duo since 1998, it boasts a cool 3,000 square meters and two acres worth of landscaped grounds, with palm and lemon trees, a swimming pool that was literally carved into the stone… all of this with sweeping views across Gibraltar all the way to Andalusia.

Two extensive master suites, three guest rooms and various drawing rooms are only a few of the extras.

While the duo is famous for their love of art – and their even greater love of collecting it – this Moroccan property remained fairly deprived of artworks. According to Bergé: “The paintings that would have worked in Tangier were Matisse. Those are in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Hermitage in St Petersburg. You can’t put worthless things on the walls. It’s better to have nothing at all.”


If you happen to be lacking inspiration and think this could be the key to emulating Saint Laurent’s success – visit Marocco this month for some invigorating autumn sunshine.


Aurelie Bellavigna


Sources: Christies, Daily Mail

Photo credits: All Villa Mabrouka photographs courtesy of Christies

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