I first read about Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh, Morocco in the early 1980s in a fashion magazine story about Yves St. Laurent.
YSL and his partner Pierre Berge had bought the property, saved it from demolition, and set about restoring it. From the first brilliant blue photo I saw, I knew I wanted to stand in and experience this garden, not just look at it in pictures.
Originally designed and built in the 1920s by artist Jacques Majorelle who painted its walls blue and its details brilliant shades of yellow, green, orange and red off set by chalky tones of turquoise and green.
He collected plants in his travels and opened his garden to the public. By the end of his life, however, he had to sell it and it deteriorated to the point that it was going to be leveled for a new Marrakesh hotel.
For me, Majorelle is about the interplay of color, water and light. It is less about its collection of 300 plants. Their grey Mediterranean tones are counterpoints for bursts of bold, sun kissed color.
St. Laurent was born and raised in North Africa. He didn’t move to Paris until he was 18. The light, color and texture of this place was as much a part of who he was as the rarefied world of the couture in Paris. He often lived and worked at here until his death in 2008. There is a simple memorial dedicated to his memory.
Having been warned, I went very early, before the tour buses arrived, and the garden got crowded. I stayed for several hours watching the light and shadows. I was transported by Majorelle’s joyful interplay of art, gardens, and fashion. Go if you can.