Other guests may bring flowers, but Yves Saint Laurent gave the entire Majorelle Garden to Marrakesh, the city that adopted him in 1964 after a sequence of events that included in rather unfortunate order: launching hippie fashion; fame as a groundbreaking gay icon; and an obligatory stint in the French military. Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergere bought the electric-blue villa and its garden to preserve the vision of its original owner, acclaimed landscape painter Jacques Majorelle, and keep it open to the public. Per his instructions, Yves Saint Laurent’s ashes were scattered over the splendidly restored Majorelle Garden upon his June 2008 passing.
Thanks to Bergere, Saint Laurent and Marrakshi botanist Abderrazak Benchaabane, the botanical garden Majorelle began cultivating in 1924 is now a psychedelic desert mirage of over 300 plant species. Fuchsia bougainvillea explode from lemon-yellow terracotta planters, skinny cacti slouch against cobalt-blue plaster walls like wasted rock stars, and goldfish flit through pale-green reflecting pools in shocking orange flashes.
Majorelle’s art-deco villa is now the Museum of Islamic Arts, which houses Saint Laurent’s collection of decorative arts plus Majorelle’s elegant lithographs of southern Morocco scenery. A small boutique features a fragrance inspired by the garden and developed by Benchaabane, and a new cafe on the premises offers drinks and fresh lunches at high-fashion prices – but you can’t argue with the view.