Musée Yves Saint Laurent

26 October 2017 — A lace-like brickwork facade and an interior inspired by a couture jacket lining are some of the fashion-inspired features of Studio KO‘s Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech.

Dedicated to the work of legendary couturier Yves Saint Laurent, the 4,000-square-metre building is the first dedicated fashion museum in Africa.

It includes permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, a research library with over 6,000 volumes, a 150-seat auditorium, and a bookstore and terrace cafe.

In addition, the museum houses a conservation archive and laboratory that will store and upkeep part of the extensive collection of clothing, haute-couture accessories and drawings belonging to the Fondation Pierre Bergé.

Musée Yves Saint Laurent

The building’s design incorporates references to the couturier’s work, while also making use of local materials and building techniques.

Its exterior incorporates terracotta brickwork designed to recall the warp and weft of fabric, as well as curved and angular volumes in earthen-colored terrazzo that the French architects said reference the “succession of delicate and bold forms that characterized the work of Yves Saint Laurent.”

In contrast, the museum’s entrance hall has smooth white walls that are designed to evoke the velvety lining of a couture jacket. The monochromatic stained glass windows that circle the curved lobby wall are inspired by traditional Moroccan-style stained glass.

Traditional Moroccan materials — such as glazed bricks, zellige tiles, granite, laurel branches and oak — are incorporated in a contemporary way in other areas, including the museum’s cafe, library, stairwells, courtyards and hallways.

Musée Yves Saint Laurent

“Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech combines two worlds that we are very familiar with and that are dear to our hearts: fashion and Morocco,” said Studio KO. “Since the founding of our architectural firm, we have worked in this country that so inspired Yves Saint Laurent. It is with great joy that we have worked on this ambitious project, and contributed in our way to the history and prestige of the most influential fashion designer of the 20th century,” the architects continued.

Musée Yves Saint Laurent

Established by Olivier Marty and Karl Fournier, Studio KO was commissioned to design the museum by the late Pierre Bergé, the longtime partner of Yves Saint Laurent.

Bergé, who masterminded the project, passed away on 8 September 2017, just over a month before its opening.

The opening of the Marrakech museum coincides with the inauguration of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, which is located at the former fashion house and current headquarters of the Fondation Pierre Bergé — Yves Saint Laurent at 5 Avenue Marceau.

Story by Amy Frearson, editorial director, Dezeen. Photography by Nicolas Mathéus.