MARRAKESH (Morocco) • Famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent once said Marrakesh had unleashed his imagination and the city's residents are now repaying the compliment by thronging a museum dedicated to him.
The museum was opened to the public on Thursday. Its management said 1,000 people packed its exhibition halls in the first three hours to get a glimpse of some of Saint Laurent's most iconic creations.
The opening comes just over a fortnight after another museum to the famed French couturier, who died in 2008, began operations at the company's former headquarters in Paris.
The Moroccan project - housed in a modernist building of traditional rose-coloured ochre bricks - was a last labour of love for Saint Laurent's former business and life partner Pierre Berge, who died last month at 86.
The pair fell in love with Marrakesh after first visiting it in 1966, when the city was a hothouse of bohemian freedom that drew artists and musicians, from Allen Ginsberg to The Rolling Stones.
Saint Laurent's imagination was fired by the colour and vibrancy he found in Morocco. He bought a villa in Marrakesh that looks set to be opened to the public next year.
"I owe to this country the audacity that has been mine ever since," read a quotation by Saint Laurent projected onto one of the museum's walls.
The US$18 million (S$24.5 million) museum - paid for from the sale of the designer's art collection - is located close to the lush Majorelle Garden that he and Mr Berge took over and restored in the 1980s.
The museum's directors hope to attract about 300,000 visitors in the first year from the tourists who now swarm the packed streets of modern Marrakesh.