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As the founder of a house which practically invented French fashion’s indefinable je ne sais quoi, Yves Saint Laurent was a designer who practiced what he preached – as his much-repeated dictum goes, “fashions pass, but style is eternal”. In thick-rimmed glasses, just-so suits and a flourish of accessories – a paisley neckerchief or spotted bowtie, perhaps, and always a perennially half-smoked cigarette – he was the epitome of the Parisian mode, and his own best advertisement.
But it was in Morocco – the north African country with which he would have perhaps the greatest love affair of his life, one he shared with longtime partner Pierre Bergé – that the illustrious designer would find his spiritual home, and a wardrobe to match. Amid the grounds of his residence, Villa Oasis, and the bordering Jardin Majorelle, with its renowned Yves Klein-blue walls, or in the teaming medina itself, in Marrakech Saint Laurent became la bohémien: all airy cotton djellaba- and jabador-style shirts, piled-up Berber scarves and beads, white jeans and bare feet. It was the sort of clothing you can only wear when you are truly away from it all – the perfect vacation wear, in other words.
“Marrakech introduced me to colour… Whatever daring things I have done since then, I am indebted to the country, to the violence of its harmonies, the insolence of its mixtures, the intensity of its inventions”
– Yves Saint Laurent