Friday, July 05, 2013

Creative Director for the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech ~ Stephen di Renza

Stephen di Renza is a man described as having "feline chic". While that may be true, there is a lot more to the man who has just been appointed Creative Director of one of Marrakech's main attractions - the Jardin Majorelle.

Stephen di Renza in Fez

Like most New York intellectuals of his generation, Stephen di Renza studied Derrida and Lyotard as well as Warhol and the punk bands playing at Max’s Kansas City. After a B.A. in film study at NYU, the Philadelphia-born di Renza started out as a photo stylist for Interview magazine, did a stint as an industrial designer, and acted as fashion director for Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.

In Paris he made his name as the Artistic Director for Dunhill where his style was described as "chic by subtraction". In Dunhill's Heritage Store di Renza mixed vintage pieces, modern re-editions and contemporary art.

Stephen in Paris   Photo : Vincent Lappartient

A long sojourn in Paris was followed by a move to Fez and the creation of Riad 9 and Resto 7.

Last year Di Renza met entrepreneur Pierre Bergé. "I really respect the people behind the Jardin Majorelle," Stephen says. The respect was obviously mutual and he clearly left a favourable impression with Bergé, who revived the fortunes of the Jardin Majorelle with his late partner Yves St Laurent. Recently di Renza received the job offer as Creative Director of what is one of the top attractions in Marrakech.

For a man with Stephen's considerable talents, it is, as he describes it. "a dream role". "I'm going to be creating all new products made in Morocco," he told The View from Fez. "I'm looking to combine modern Morocco with international savoir faire."

The Majorelle Garden

Majorelle is a twelve-acre botanical garden and artist's landscape garden in Marrakech. It was designed by the expatriate French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s, during the colonial period when Morocco was a protectorate of France.

Majorelle Gardens - photo: Suzanna Clarke

Majorelle was the son of the Art Nouveau ébéniste of Nancy, Louis Majorelle. Though Majorelle's gentlemanly Orientalist watercolors are largely forgotten today (many are preserved in the villa's collection), the two and a half acre garden he created is his creative masterpiece. The special shade of bold cobalt blue which he used extensively in the garden and its buildings is named after him, bleu Majorelle — Majorelle Blue.

The garden hosts more than 15 bird species that are endemic to North Africa. It has many fountains, and a notable collection of cacti. It has been open to the public since 1947. Since 1980 the garden has been owned by the late Yves Saint-Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé.

After Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 his ashes were scattered in the Majorelle Garden.

The garden also houses the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech, whose collection includes North African textiles from Saint-Laurent's personal collection as well as ceramics, jewelry, and paintings by Majorelle.

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