The Ourika Gardens are a contemporary interpretation of the ancient Garden of Eden, which portrays Yves Saint Laurent’s love for nature and fascination with Moroccan colour. YSL Beauty inaugurated these gardens in early May 2019, designed not only to grow plants and flowers for YSL skincare and makeup formulas, but as a space of contemplation and research.
In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent fell madly in love with Morocco. This mysterious sun-drenched land had triggered an aesthetic epiphany, which led him to designate Marrakech as his refuge, his paradise found and an inexhaustible source of inspiration – as it had been for the painters Delacroix and Matisse.
In these gardens, irises, sage, mint, prickly pears, marigold, walnut trees, verbena all thrive alongside precious saffron used in the premium Or Rouge range. Landscape designers Éric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières also included in the gardens a space entirely dedicated to botanical research – where YSL beauty experiments with new ingredients – and a “legacy” space where flowers such as wheat, hibiscus, and lilies pay tribute to the avant-gardist French designer.
YSL’s rich history of liberating women is continued through the creation of a women’s cooperative which aims at supporting Moroccan women’s artisanal knowledge and financial independence. YSL is working alongside a community of women who use their ancestral know-how to harvest the Ourika Gardens. Harvesting saffron requires specific skills: it takes 150,000 saffron pistils, picked one by one every morning during a two-week flowering period in November to produce a kilo of saffron. In just three years, this unique community has doubled its revenue which, in turn, has promoted women’s empowerment in the region, with mothers being able to send their daughters to school.
The Ourika Gardens are cultivated using local farming expertise from the Tnine community through surface irrigation and safeguarded manual techniques. “The choice to use square plots is an ode to gardens of paradise, which are very common in the Middle East,” state Éric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières.
Whether it is saffron pistils used in the premium Or Rouge range, walnut leaf used in the Top Secrets range, or the Touche Éclat range is formulated with marigold, YSL ensures through the Ourika Gardens the brand remains at the forefront of sustainability and innovation.
Written by - Severine Etienne