Marrakech Cluster # 4

It is fitting that our taxi driver, Abdul, was once a textile dyer because Morocco is a country that gouges rivers of dye, pigment and ochre into your soul memory.

We’re not talking skin-level henna here.

We are talking deep, ten layer thick, peacock feather against the eyelid, electrical vibrancy.

After my first visit to Marrakech in 2008 I left with imprints of pink and red.

The 2012 adventure has impaled me with a different color; Majorelle blue.

Or Yves Klein blue – the intoxicating indigo of Jardin de Marjorelle,  the gardens bought and restored by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

“There are gardens in Marrakech, for which I have a real passion. And the colours that I miss in Paris,” the designer is reported to have said. He once referred to Jardin de Marjorelle, with its beautiful blue-walled museum of Islamic art, “a source of inspiration” and said that he “often dreamt of its unique colours.” These gardens didn’t always belong to Yves Saint Laurent, however.

They were originally created and named after the French artist, Jacques Majorelle,who in 1916, settled in Marrakech and purchased the piece of land. In 1947 he opened the garden to the public, but following a car accident he returned to France and died in 1962.

In 1980 Yves Saint Laurent, who had already fallen passionately in love with Marrakech and was famed for reinventing traditional Moroccan attire, such as the jellaba, the jabador, the burnous and the tarbouch, discovered the overgrown garden.

Together with his partner Pierre Bergé, he began the lengthy and expensive project of restoration.

Jardin de Majorelle eventually became the oasis of colour, with its vibrant flashes of blue …

alien-like cacti,

shady bamboo groves,

and air of peace that it is today.

In 2002, when  Yves Saint Laurent retired, he became increasingly reclusive and began spending much of his time at his house in Marrakech. When he eventually died of a brain tumour on June 1st 2008, aged 71, two ceremonies took place.

The first was his funeral, held in Paris and attended by 800 guests, including John-Paul Gaultier, Hubert de  Givenchy, Vivienne Westward and his mother, Lucienne who was now 95 years old.

The second ceremony was held in the Marjorelle  – his gardens in Marrakech.

And here his ashes were scattered.

On visiting Jardin de Marjorelle I was surprised at how small it was. It didn’t take very long to meander around the pathways, stepping from cool shade into dappled sunlight. In hindsight, I don’t have much recollection of the plants or the structure of the beds. I am just left with impressions; swimming light stitched against shade, bold lines and contrasting colours, formlessness with geometric patterns and peace.

And intense, heavenly blue.


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