Yves Saint Laurent museum opens in Marrakech, with architecture inspired by designer's creations

A striking new museum dedicated to the life and work of French fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent has opened today (19 October) in Marrakech, Morocco.

French architecture firm Studio KO designed the 4,000sq m (43,000sq ft) terracotta brick home of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent on a site next to the city’s Jardin Majorelle, a garden the designer acquired himself to save it from being destroyed by developers.

Saint Laurent was known for his love of Marrakech and was a regular visitor from 1966 until his death in 2008.

The museum celebrates his legacy with a collection of accessories, haute couture garments, sketches, collection boards, photographs and objects he collected between 1962 and 2002. The exhibits have been lent by the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, which protects the designer’s legacy and work.

Studio KO had access to the collection when designing the museum. They took inspiration from Saint Laurent’s “delicate and bold forms” and his use of curved and straight lines in combination, interpreting this in the architecture of the building. The façade appears as an intersection of cubes with a lace-like covering of bricks, which creates patterns evoking “the weft and warp of fabric”.

The interiors have been designed in stark contrast, with the architects creating “velvety, smooth and radiant space, like the lining of a couture jacket".

“The museum combines two worlds that we are very familiar with and that are dear to our hearts: fashion and Morocco,” said Studio KO founders Olivier Marty and Karl Fournier, who have had an office in Marrakech for over a decade.

“Since the founding of our architectural firm, we have worked in this country that so inspired Yves Saint Laurent. It is with great joy that we have worked on this ambitious project, and contributed in our way to the history and prestige of the most influential fashion designer of the 20th century.”

The museum is home to a permanent exhibition space, designed by scenographer Christophe Martin, showcasing 50 rarely seen pieces from the foundation’s collection; alongside a research library with over 6,000 volumes about both design and Morocco; a 150-seat auditorium; a bookstore; and a terrace cafe, designed by architect Yves Taralon. Temporary galleries also feature, dedicated to fashion, contemporary art and design, anthropology and botany.

Audiovisual elements – including screens showing sketches, photographs, runway shows, films, voices and music – are placed throughout the building to reveal Saint Laurent’s creative process.

“It’s not a retrospective, but rather a voyage to the heart of his work,” said Martin. “The garments are displayed in an understated environment, one without affectation, which accompanies and underscores the work. These are enveloped by an immense, luminous and radiating portrait of Yves Saint Laurent.”

The opening of the Marrakech museum coincides with the inauguration of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, which will be located at the former fashion house and current headquarters of the foundation at 5 Avenue Marceau – the studio where Saint Laurent designed and created his work for almost 30 years.

Stage designer Nathalie Crinière and interior designer Jacques Grange have rethought the available exhibition space, doubling it in size and refurbishing the interiors in the style of the designer’s original couture house. Objects on display include a tuxedo, Sahara jacket, jumpsuit and trench coat designed by Saint Laurent, while an exhibition explores the inspiration he drew from China, India, Spain and Russia.

The foundation’s president – and Saint Laurent’s former partner – Pierre Bergé passed away on 8 September 2017. He had previously described the opening of the two museums as “the latest twist in a journey that began long ago when we had no idea how destiny would smile on us”.

Yves Saint Laurent  Marrakech  culture  design  Studio KO 
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A striking new museum dedicated to the life and work of French fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent has opened today (19 October) in Marrakech, Morocco. French architecture firm Studio KO designed the 4,000sq m (43,000sq ft) terracotta brick home of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent on a site next to the city’s Jardin Majorelle, a garden the designer acquired himself to save it from being destroyed by developers. Saint Laurent
CLD,VAT,HAM,AAC,ARC,DES
The Musée Yves Saint Laurent has now opened in Marrakech / Nicolas Mathéus
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