Morocco is an extremely sophisticated country. With its cuisine, artisans, culture and very refined architecture it’s no wonder Marrakech makes such a strong impression on visitors. Everything from polished plaster walls in ocher and bright colors, patterned vintage tiles, carved wooden ceilings and super chic landscaped pools and gardens make this a destination you’ll remember.
Marrakech: a celebrity hub
Marrakech become a hub for celebrities and creatives alike and magazines such as Vogue and Elle often come here to shoot fashion editorials. It was the vibrancy of the colors, the sophistication of the design and the refinement of the architecture that appealed to iconic couturier Yves Saint Laurent as he first traveled to Marrakech.
When I discovered Morocco, it was an extraordinary shock. The city taught me color
-Yves Saint Laurent
The designer, who became head of one of the world's great fashion houses at age 21 needed an escape from the intense stress of Parisian life. Marrakesh was his chosen destination and he took inspiration from this bustling and beautiful city in his designs.
Explore the Majorelle Garden
The Majorelle Garden was designed by the French Artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s during the colonial period when Morocco was a protectorate of France. In 1980, the garden was purchased by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé to prevent it from becoming a hotel. The first thing you’ll notice is the special shade of cobalt blue named after Jaques: bleu Majorelle. This mesmerizing blue in a sea of cacti is one of Morocco’s absolute must-sees for fashionistas.
The garden also houses the Berber Museum. The collection includes berber textiles and jewelry from Saint Laurent’s personal collection. The street on which the Majorelle Garden is located now bears Yves Saint Laurent’s name, a sign of the designer’s love of this North African country. The Gardens are open daily from 8am – 5:30 pm.
Photo credit ©Flickr user Gareth Williams
Yves Saint Laurent’s inspiration
Marrakech appeals to all of the senses and Yves Saint Laurent fell in love with the city instantly. When he arrived in the 1960’s, he was strongly influenced by its exotic colors, atmosphere and people. When looking through the YSL archive, the Moroccan influence is present in many garments, from the obvious to the more subtle references in the colors and fabrics. The legendary designer reinvented some of the more traditional Moroccan pieces such as the jellaba and tarbouch. Saint Laurent experimented with kaftans, turbans and hats to be worn by fashion's chicest women. He was also an avid collector of everything Moroccan.
There are gardens in Marrakech, for which I have a real passion. And the colors that I miss in Paris.
-Yves Saint Laurent
Where to shop
Did you know that the movie Sex and the City 2 was filmed in Marrakech, posing as Abu Dhabi? This means you can shop in the very same magical medinas and souks as Carrie Bradshaw did in the movie. Djemaa el Fna is the main market square in the Old Town and a UNESCO heritage site. Musicians, dancers and storytellers pack this square at the heart of the medina. You will almost certainly be accosted by women wanting to give you a henna tattoo, so why not get one?
Next to the square you’ll find the souks where you can buy almost anything. Pick up spices, traditional leather slippers, decorated tagines and silver tea pots, and make sure you bargain with the sellers! If medinas aren’t your thing, take a trip down Rue des Vieux Marrakchis where more modern clothes and interior fashion can be found at Moor and Michèle Baconnier.
Party with the fashion crowd
Marrakech can definitely give European cities a run for their money when it comes to a sophisticated night out. A short taxi ride from downtown, Bo-zin attracts a hip crowd with its fusion food and loungy cactus garden. We’ve heard most people come for the atmospheric bar with its relaxed furniture and very elaborate cocktails. Another good option is Azar, a Bond-like Middle Eastern inspired lounge with chairs shaped like martini glasses. Order some Lebanese-style mezze and sample the Moroccan wines.
What to wear on your Marrakech holiday
Opt for a long silky kaftan or loose top and harem-style trousers. These items will keep you looking good whether you’re lounging in the riad or going out for dinner while ensuring you are suitably covered. Leave the high heels at home and go for flat leather sandals instead. Go wild with brightly colored jewelry, throw on a turban, and you’ll be ready for anything Marrakech has to offer.
After exploring the souks and markets you’ll want to return to a comfortable accommodation to drop off your new favorite pieces of your wardrobe before heading out to dinner. Stay at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Marrakech Carrè Eden in the Gueliz district, just a few minutes from the best shopping in Marrakech.