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Arts and Crafts of Berber Women on Display in Paris

Carolyn Meers

The design and artisanship of Berber women are being celebrated with an expansive exhibition at the Fondation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint Laurent in Paris through July 20. Berber Women of Morocco showcases more than 600 handmade objects, from tapestries and pottery to garments and jewelry, all made and used by women from the Berber people of Morocco. Opened last month, the exhibition highlights the personal collection that Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé assembled starting with their first trip to Morocco in the 1960s. The items are typically on display in the Musée Berbère, a converted villa in Marrakech, and this exhibition marks the collection’s European debut. 

The exhibition reflects the Berbers’ unique culture, traditions, and crafts and also illustrates the couple’s deep passion for the arts of Morocco and their appreciation for traditional artisanship. The display includes traditional Berber head scarves, rugs, and blankets made of silk, cotton, and wool; some have been dyed vibrant colors like indigo, while others are embroidered with colorful tassels or painted with henna dye. Perhaps most eye-catching are the exhibition’s elaborate jewelry designs, which include a variety of necklaces, belts, brooches, and headpieces featuring vivid coral pieces, hammered silver, carved amber, and intricate beadwork. (www.fondation-pb-ysl.net)

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