With Senja at Yves Saint Laurent in Villa Mabrouka in Tangier

That morning we ran away from the festival for a bit and ran into him. We recognized him immediately. He is our neighbour, lives in the villa next to us and dresses in long white dresses with embroidered details. He looks like a Frenchman in Tangier, just like a furniture and clothing designer. He also recognized us. Senja gave him a mischievous nod with Bonjour. He stopped and invited us to breakfast.

His gait is expressive and emphasises the movement of the dress. In his hand is a cigar, which appears to be part of his hand along with a gold bracelet of Venetian work.

Photo archive Yves Saint Lauren

We walked through the garden to the pool. The silence is disturbed by the chirping of birds and for a moment his deep sigh: “Ah, I would never move from here.” If everyone who needs me could come here…and let me draw, choose materials. Every day on the street I find another muse for a future model.

… Such colours do not exist anywhere in the world”.

Maids noiselessly pass by us, i.e. handsome young Moroccans carrying wicker bags with white towels in their hands…

“In Morocco, I realised that the range of colours I use is like their decorative tiles or kaftan colors. I owe this country courage, its strong harmony, color combinations and creativity. This culture became mine, I took it, transformed it and adapted it.”

Senja occasionally looks at me as if to tell me that it is impossible what is happening to us…

“They will serve us breakfast here in the garden if you don’t mind?”

“I grew up in Algeria and when I first came to Tangier I felt a strong attraction and memory of something deep inside me. Here I am really like in the best memory or dreams.

But, do you like squeezed pomegranates and figs?”

Uniformed young Moroccans paraded again, a cook, a waiter and a few others who followed us bringing and taking away.

They brought us jasmine tea and two kaftans, purple and green, if we wanted to change to be more comfortable. The neighbour loves to lie on the grass, on a Moroccan handmade rug that he may have designed himself.

We were slowly becoming a composition from Delacroix oil paintings.

While the neighbour was napping, Senja and I wandered around the property. We were followed all the time by the property guards, of course again Moroccans in tight white pants and T-shirts. They were embarrassed to be looked at.

Senja was less patient than me, so at one point she asked to be left alone.

It’s time for Senja’s photo shoot and my meditation… Out of the corner of my eye, I see Senja catching shadows on the emerald tiles of the pool and the neighbour holding the chair she is balancing on. The photos are even more exciting when she changes into a brick-coloured caftan and walks down a few steps into the pool while he takes her photo.

Villa Mabrouka (translated as “House of Happiness”) is the former home of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, and since last year a boutique hotel, a villa with 12 rooms.

The house is a mix of 1940s modernist architecture, traditional Moroccan design elements and English country house interiors. The vibrant colors and textures of the city found their way into his collections that dominated the Paris runways at the time.

Senja and I encountered quiet resistance from employees who were under stress because of “important local guests at lunch”. We didn’t like it, but we still ordered champagne and a cold shrimp salad. They warned us several times that photography was prohibited.

So I decided to write you this story and thank Yves Saint Laurent, a dear neighbour from my imagination.


Villa Mabrouka

Photo & Muse Senja Vild @senjamafn

The characters and events in this story are partly fictitious. Any apparent similarity to real persons or events is intended by the author and is either a coincidence or the product of your own troubled imagination.

Photo archive Yves Saint Lauren
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Nataša Nikodijević Savin
Curated by Nataša

Producer (by degree and DNA structure).
A creative leader in business.
Entrepreneur. An artist. Curator and narrator.
Multitasking talent. Improviser. The inventor.



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