Inside Yves Saint Laurent’s Iconic Marrakech Home ⇒ Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic Marrakech home, Villa Oasis, along with the Majorelle Garden, are now cultural landmarks of the Morrocan city. Let’s take a look at the amazing design it hides inside.
Hidden within the urban hustle of Marrakech, the Majorelle Garden and the colourful Villa Oasis are world-class landmarks. The backstory of the Majorelle compound is a Franco-American saga that counted on six gifted and visionary men: French Orientalist painter and plant collector Jacques Majorelle; legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent; YSL’s partner in life and business, collector, and philanthropist Pierre Bergé; French decorator Jacques Grange; American expat and architect Bill Willis; and American garden designer Madison Cox.
In 1923, Majorelle bought the property that became the core of the six acres that make up the compound today. Starting then, and throughout the 1930s, he built the home known as Villa Oasis. It was his choice to paint the house the iconic and vibrating shade of blue and to plant the grounds with an eccentric array of vegetation, which he both gathered locally and brought back from his frequent travels. Jacques is best known for his realist oil paintings depicting the native peoples and landscapes of North Africa. But he was also skilled in the colourful, curvy style of Art Nouveau decorative arts. Several of the hand-painted doors and a console he created have been successfully preserved in Villa Oasis’s entry hall and grand salon.
Architect Bill Willis helped Saint Laurent and Bergé refine the architecture of the blue salon, while Grange decorated the interior.
Majorelle opened a large section of its garden to the public in 1947. When Saint Laurent and Bergé bought the property in 1980, they continued this democratic policy. An estimated 850,000 people visited the Majorelle Garden last year, but they don’t get to see this private side of Majorelle. Discreetly connected through several locked wooden doors, Majorelle’s public and private domains are equally lush, full of colour and amazingly well cared for.
While they were alive, Saint Laurent and Bergé worked with architect Bill Willis to transform the original painting studio into a Berber museum. They also constructed a café/restaurant, a bookshop, and a gift shop. Garden designer Madison Cox helped to restore all the existing structures while also adding new ones. The grass was replaced with less thirsty crushed red gravel. Today, there are staff offices as well as a commissary and showers for the property’s gardening staff.
Inspired by his travels throughout Morocco, Majorelle designed the elaborate tile-work and wall decorations in the grand salon. The 1920s console (right) is the villa’s sole remaining piece hand-painted by Majorelle. When Saint Laurent and Bergé were in residence, life at Villa Oasis was full of social action, being frequented by the fashion and art elite.
Bergé was, and will forever be, Villa Oasis’s last resident. Cox, who is president of the Fondation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint Laurent in Paris and also president of the Fondation Jardin Majorelle, has now decided to unite the three acres of off-limits Majorelle with the three acres of currently accessible Majorelle next door. Cox, who is Bergé’s widower and was a close friend of the YSL clan for 40 years, plans to start to fuse the private with the public realms of the property next year.
The current roster of nearly 200 Majorelle employees will be expanded. There are plans to organize small tours through Villa Oasis’s interior. The pristine, red-tinted concrete paths will now be used by hundreds of thousands of curious visitors as opposed to dozens of insider houseguests.
Source: Elle Decor
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