Yves Saint Laurent Museum: A Fashion Journey Through Morocco

Museum Yves Saint Laurent

Built on the grounds of the fashion designer’s former haute couture house, museum yves saint laurent showcases his work. Scenographer Christophe Martin envisioned the interiors around themes close to the designer’s heart: masculine-feminine, black, Morocco and Africa, imaginary voyages and gardens.

Throughout the museum, Moroccan elements—terracotta brickwork that echoes the warp and weft of fabric, zellige tiles and granite—are woven into sleek contemporary spaces. A library, a 130-seat auditorium and a terrace complete the space.

The Yves Saint Laurent Hall

Designed to mimic the ateliers where Saint Laurent’s 200 tailors and seamstresses worked, the museum features a permanent collection displayed within original scenography. It also houses a library, auditorium, bookstore, and cafe-restaurant with a terrace.

A lace-like brick facade and interior inspired by couture jacket lining are among the fashion-inspired features of this French-Moroccan building by architect Studio KO. Traditional Moroccan materials such as glazed brick, zellige tiles, granite, laurel branches, and oak are used throughout.

Strolling through the rooms of this museum is like stepping into a fashion film. Many of the dresses are enlivened by a video that tells Yves Saint Laurent’s story and his relationship with his partner, Pierre Berge. A dress inspired by Piet Mondrian’s geometric designs demonstrates the way that art fed into Saint Laurent’s work. Other garments highlight his interest in women’s fashion and how he incorporated a relaxed chic style into womenswear. One room shows the dresses he designed for the Proust Ball hosted by Baroness Marie-Helene de Rothschild and her husband in 1971.

The Library

Yves Saint Laurent was a lifelong art lover, and his collection of paintings provided inspiration for many of his haute couture creations. He also kept notebooks filled with doodles, notes, sketches and other images that helped him to reimagine and rework his designs.

Designed by French architects Studio KO, the 4,000-square-metre building is wrapped in pink granite and brass and framed by earthen-coloured bricks and laurel branches. Its exterior sobriety reflects the couturier’s signature mix of curves and straight lines.

Inside, mannequins draped in Saint Laurent’s creations are spot-lit against black painted walls, while projections of sketches and films contextualise the exhibited garments. Lacquered amber shelving – the same colour as the perfume bottle Opium – and traditional Moroccan materials (glazed brick, zellige tiles, terrazzo and oak) feature throughout. The library, meanwhile, is lined with books on fashion, art history, botany, Arab-Andalusian culture and the Berbers.

The Shop

Opened in autumn 2017, this museum exhibits haute couture clothing and accessories along with tens of thousands of sketches. It draws on the collection from the Fondation Pierre Berge and also focuses on Saint Laurent’s Berber heritage.

French architects Studio KO designed the 4,000-m2 building, which resembles woven fabric and includes a permanent exhibition space with scenography by Martin; a temporary gallery; 150-seat auditorium; research library; bookstore and terrace cafe.

Inside, the main black-box exhibition hall displays 50 mannequins in dialogue with catwalk film and sketches. They reflect themes dear to the designer, including masculine-feminine, Morocco and Africa, imaginary voyages and art.

Next, you can step into a recreation of Saint Laurent’s creative studio—complete with scraps of fabric and a crowded desk. Then there’s a room that showcases dresses inspired by historical fashions reworked to be new for the modern era. This is a good place to see the influence of artists like Picasso, Van Gogh and Matisse on the couturier.

The Terrace

In the museum’s cafe, plaster light fixtures and pale ocher walls create a monastic mood that mirrors the simple interior of Saint Laurent’s Paris studio. A large, panoramic drawing by Ulrich Gassmann adds to the effect. The space also offers an antidote to the emotional impact of the exhibits.

The geometric 4,000-square-meter museum features 50 mannequins in a dialogue with sketches, film projections and images tracing the designer’s North African influences and roots. French architecture firm Studio KO—founded by Olivier Marty and Karl Féroer—designed the museum’s compact forms, with a brick lacework façade and silky smooth interior reminiscent of garment lining.

Like the other top museums in Paris, the YSL Museum fosters dialogue between a selection of garments—including some of Saint Laurent’s most iconic designs and beautiful discoveries from the permanent collections—and a broad range of art works from various eras. This approach is underscored by the exhibition’s “technical cabinet,” where visitors can see how different elements—from feathers to leather—were sourced and used in the couturier’s attention-grabbing fashion designs.

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