The apartment’s interior was created in the Art Deco style by French architect Jean-Michel in the 1920s, reflecting Saint Laurent’s obsession with the Jazz Age, which was also echoed in his ready-to-wear collections of the time. The designer was in thrall then to the streamlined yet luxurious aesthetic of high-end Art Deco, and the apartment housed Eileen Gray’s Dragon armchair, stools by Pierre Legrain, vases by Jean Dunand, Gustave Miklos’s stools with a red lacquer frame and opulent pieces bought at a 1972 sale of early 20th-Century couturier Jacques Doucet’s collection of modern art and furniture.
A new book, Yves Saint Laurent at Home – Life with Yves and Pierre, written by their friend, the interior designer Jacques Grange, showcases the couple’s 1970s homes. Their other key 70s residence was Dar es Saada, a pink mansion in a secluded spot in Marrakech, acquired in 1974, whose interiors were redesigned by Bill Willis. For Saint Laurent, who was born in French Algeria, their Moroccan villa – surrounded by the paradisiacal Jardin Majorelle created by French “Orientalist” painter Jacques Majorelle – offered an escape from the commercial pressures of Paris.
“As the first celebrities to allow their homes to be photographed for interior design magazines, Saint Laurent and Bergé practically transformed Marrakech into Paris’s 21st arrondissement,” writes journalist Laurence Benaïm in the book. The openly gay couple had holidayed in Marrakech in 1967, and mingled with bohemian Americans Talitha and Paul Getty. The young, epicene Saint Laurent grew his hair, adopted a more relaxed hippy look, and smoked kief (hashish, common in North Africa), with his other main muse, Loulou de la Falaise. In the mid-1970s, he donned loose kaftans there and in 1976 designed a Moroccan-inspired, vibrantly coloured womenswear collection – simple tunics and harem pants in purples and oranges.
Better known as a fashion designer, Saint Laurent is nevertheless admired by many for his taste in interiors, says Martina Mondadori, editor of Cabana magazine and co-author of the book, YSL Lexicon: An ABC of the Fashion, Life and Inspirations of Yves Saint Laurent: “There isn’t a fashion designer or interior decorator in the past 15 years who hasn’t been inspired in some capacity by Saint Laurent’s vision. Dar Es Saada was an ode to the versatile, sophisticated world he lived in. The flow of rooms on the ground floor is the perfect set design for any party. It’s as decadent as it gets, and the velvets, the colours and tiles make the whole house feel very intimate – ultimately the secret to making everyone feel at home.”