Marrakesh is doing it big for Yves Saint Laurent. A new Museum will be opened in the Autumn of 2017, dedicated to him, and I imagine that some of the thousands of pieces and artwork preserved by the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation may find a home there. Not only that, but the small road off the main road leading to the Jardin Majorelle is being dug up, no doubt distressing the Covent Garden-style boutiques that have popped up along it. The new road will be called Avenue Yves Saint Laurent in honour of the designer, and will, I expect, facilitate the arrival of yet more buses and taxis- imagine, only 20 steps to walk to the garden! Do I sound testy? I am.
I last came here 9 or 10 years ago. It was on the busy side then, but now it has reached saturation. It is impossible to get near the house without entering into an Instagram competition with fashionista(i)s of all ages, primping and posing by the fabulous YSL blue and contrasting yellow windows. It is like the worst of Chelsea on speed. Timed tickets might be the only answer, or maybe the pull of the new Museum will entice some of them away. When I say fashionistas, I do mean it, special outfits are worn with full-on accessorising, gloves and shoes to hats and bags.
Rant over. Of course, it is a wonderful space to visit, with the addition of the Berber Museum, which contains some wonderful artefacts, and a spectacular display of jewellery and traditional clothes. It just needs some crowd management to enable everyone to appreciate the beauty of the garden, and to re-capture some of the calmness that attracted Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé to save the garden from destruction in the first place.
Jacques Majorelle, the garden’s creator, had worked to create the superb collection of plants, gradually building his ‘cathedral of colours’ as he called it, until his death in 1962. Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé came here in the 60s and saved the buildings and garden from likely destruction in 1980, moving next door to live in the Villa Oasis. The website talks lyrically of birdsong to be heard in the garden- hard to hear it for all the clicking of gadgets.
So, all my photographs were taken as if by Inspector Clousseau, lurking through palm fronds and dodging crowds, so that some of the tranquility and the drama of the colour can be seen without a supporting cast. No front-on views of anything, I am afraid, but I think that some of the spirit of the place is still visible. I will endeavour to identify some of the cacti next week in an update, I am not a cactus or succulent expert! So here are some uncrowded memories to hang onto.