Yves Saint Laurent museum opens to the public in Marrakesh

Tourists visit the new Yves Saint Laurent museum in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh. PHOTO: AFP

MARRAKESH (AFP) - Visitors crowded through the doors on Oct 19 as a museum to legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent opened to the public in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.

The museum's management said 1,000 people thronged through its exhibition halls in the first three hours to get a glimpse of some of Saint Laurent's most iconic creations as they went on display in the city that inspired him.

The opening comes just over a fortnight after another museum to the famed French couturier, who died in 2008, began working 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 aged 86.

The pair fell in love with Marrakesh after first visiting in 1966 when the city was 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 that he found in Morocco and 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," a quotation by Saint Laurent projected onto one of the museum's walls read.

The 15 million euro (S$24.1 million) museum - paid for from the sale of the designer's spectacular art collection - is located close to the lush Majorelle Garden that he and Berge took over and restored in the 1980s.

The museum's directors hope to attract some 300,000 visitors in the first year from the tourists that now throng the packed streets of modern Marrakesh.

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