Jun 11, 2008
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Friends scatter YSL ashes in his Marrakech garden

Jun 11, 2008

MARRAKECH, Morocco, June 11, 2008 (AFP) - Close friends of the iconic French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who died 10 days ago, on Wednesday June 12th scattered his ashes in the garden of his Marrakech villa, his partner Pierre Berge said.

View of the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech - Photo : Abdelhak Senna/AFP

That was followed by a second ceremony at the Majorelle botanical garden that Saint Laurent and Berge acquired in 1980 and has become a popular tourist attraction in the Moroccan city.

"We scattered the ashes in the rose garden of his private home because he went there often over 30 years, and we have placed a pillar in his memory in the Majorelle garden, because Yves Saint Laurent and I, we gave it new life when it was supposed to be destroyed to build a hotel," an emotional Berge, the designer's lifelong professional and personal companion, told AFP.

Some 88 people went to the designer's home for the ceremony, including former French culture ministers Renaud Donnedieu de Vabre and Jack Lang, television presenter Claire Chazal, as well as former employees and nurses who cared for Saint Laurent.

Even his dog, Moujik, was there.

Saint Laurent, who reshaped fashion in a career that spanned four decades, died June 1 of a brain tumour at the age of 71, with his funeral in Paris on June 5 attracting the elite of the fashion world, friends and celebrities.

Algeria-born "YSL" spent much time in Morocco, and Berge said at his funeral: "He will stay there in a country that influenced and marked him greatly. He will end up in the Maghreb where he was born."

"I've always thought Parisien cemeteries were sad and deserted. Here there are 650,000 visitors every year. The name of Yves Saint Laurent is so connected to Morocco and the Majorelle garden that it went without saying we would choose this location, so that people can spare a thought for him," Berge added.

The memorial column in the garden bears a white marble plaque with the words: "Yves Saint Laurent, designer, Oran 1/8/1936 Paris 1/6/2008."

Saint Laurent, who was born in the Algerian town of Oran, fell in love at first sight with Marrakech, known as the "pink city", 40 years ago, long before it became fashionable.

"I knew last year that the brain tumour was terminal, and thus I knew he would leave and I would be alone," Berge added.

Berge will also be cremated and his ashes scattered next to his partner's when he dies, he revealed.

Guests enjoyed a lunch in the shaded canopy of exotic trees after the ceremony.

"Pierre Berge's idea to scatter Yves Saint Laurent's ashes in this country, which he loved above all, in this gorgeous and magical house, is a beautiful idea, and somehow it is a fitting way to be reconciled with his death," Lang said.

The Majorelle garden is home to flora from five continents, with 350 species, including a superb collection of cactuses, plants, palms, bamboos and ferns from Latin America.

"I will always treasure one dinner he gave," said TV anchorwoman Chazal. "It was very intimate. He was on top form. At the same time it was a little sad, because he was already a little bit aged, but you could still see the twinkle in his eye, because he had so much humour and compassion."

by Samy Ketz

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