Majorelle Gardens Horti-couture in Marrakech Barbara Kingstone March 19, 2011 Africa, Morocco It’s early morning and the streets of Marrakech are still quiet. The cloudless sky is an indication that this will be another sunny sultry day. This is the best time to head to The Marjorelle Gardens on Avenue Yacoub el Mansour. There, the multi-coloured bougainvillea delicately cascade from the high outside white wall surrounding the gardens. It’s a palette of course that is luscious but not entirely unusual in this land of dazzling flora and fauna. Inside the gates are ten hectares of exotic plants from pots of flowing blossoms to cacti and bamboo. It would be any landscapes artist’s dream. And that is obviously one of the reasons that, in 1917, the French born artist Jacques Majorelle, bought this estate and gardens where he set up his easel each morning to sketch the colourful vegetation. Walking under the pergolas on the neatly constructed pathway, I was able to peek through a large wrought iron gate for a chance to see the partially hidden home of a late fashion legend. French couturier Yves Saint Laurent, who owned this incfredibly deep blue mansion which was recently sold. He had bought and restored this horti-couture oasis, then opened it to the public. However, the house remains “tres privee’. One could only assume that when YSL was in residence, he lounged in a flowing djellaba overlooking the majestic hues. The gardens seem tailor made for a creator/designer since the range of tones, variety of cultivation and reflecting pools continue to change colours as the morning turns to midday. Even though many of the tourists who come to see the Majorelle Gardens are wearing shorts and wild-printed polyester shirts, you could have heard them whisper about the possible (but improbable) opportunity of seeing the fashion icon. They may never get to the catwalk shows of Paris but they can still enjoy couture garden in Morocco. On this perfect day, the pagoda attracts anyone holding a camera. But there are “photo ops” every few steps – here a date tree, there some magnificently plumed birds. Ah, so that’s where YSL may have gotten his inspiration! If only I would have seen Yves Saint Laurent just happen to be peeking from his very secluded mansion, he would have realized that opening the Majorelle Gardens to the public is a presentation of the haute couture walkways of gardens.