Yves Saint Laurent Jewelry: French Sense of Elegance With a Hint of Exotic Flavors

Yves Saint Laurent Vintage Jewelry

"I want to give haute couture a kind of wink, a sense of humour—to introduce the whole sense of freedom one sees in the street into high fashion; to give couture the same provocative and arrogant look as punk—but of course with luxury and dignity and style," said Yves Saint Laurent. The genius of this fashion and jewelry designer is well renowned the world over and doesn’t need any special introduction. In fact, Yves Saint Laurent was the first living couturier to have an exhibition dedicated to him by the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The exhibition--Yves Saint Laurent: 25 Years of Design--was held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from December 14, 1983 to September 2, 1984. The show itself was a source of inspiration for several fashion books and is included in many fashion design history textbooks.

Classic French Fashion Forms Meet Moroccan Exotic Color Palette 

In the late 60s Yves Saint Laurent was well established as a designer, as a fashion trendsetter and was no longer in the shadow of the House of Christian Dior. However the pressure of the fashion world’s expectations as well as enormous hours and hard labor required for producing two collections every year were starting to take their toll on the designer. Looking for a small refuge the designer took his first trip to Marrakech in 1966. 

Morocco, with its vibrant colors, unfamiliarly flavorful food, exotic smells, and warm open and chatty personalities completely “enchanted and captivated” the couturier. Not surprisingly, the distinct character of the city of Marrakesh soon found its way into Yves Saint Laurent fashion and jewelry designs. Ih his own words it added “boldness” to his designs.

Marrakech’s Flavors Reinvented in Luxury Jewelry Form

On a timeline of Yves Saint Laurent’s jewelry designs spanning over a quarter of a century one can clearly see the before and after of that life turning point--trip to Morocco. In his collections before 1966 the spotlight in Yves Saint Laurent costume jewelry is given to faux pearls and diamond like glass. 

In his collections starting 1968 onward the couturier incorporated new gems, including dense cobalt  blue glass--a reminiscence of bright and deep color of Marrackeche’s night sky, bright pink enamel, delicate orange faux corals, multi-colored poured glass jewelry elements, vibrant purple and iridescent silver-colored crystals, and more. In terms of themes and shapes, his 70s and 80s collections included prominent snake patterns, that were so popular in Morocco and ethnic-inpired ornaments, including long necklaces with medal-shaped details and elaborate chokers, bracelets and earrings. 

Yves Saint Laurent’s Continued Legacy

In January 2002, Saint Laurent participated in his final show and then retired for good in Marrakech. Where over a decade later The Yves Saint Laurent Museum was opened to celebrate his life's work (French: Musée Yves Saint Laurent de Marrakech, stylized mYSLm). The museum is very easy to find, it’s located on a street that had already been named after the designer, Yves Saint Laurent Street, near Majorelle Garden—Saint Laurent's residence in Morocco, transformed since his death into a garden. 


As a living proof of the couturier’s continued influence, the exhibition space sees about 800,000 visitors every year since its opening less than five years ago, in 2017. It is the most popular tourist attraction in all of Morocco. In January 2018, the museum received the best new public building award at the 2018 Design Awards of the British international design magazine Wallpaper.