In an era when personal and professional boundaries continue to blur, so much of a designer’s private life is representative of their creative process. The homes of fashion designers often reflect a fondness for particular stylistic elements and eras, which, in some way or another, manage to find themselves in the clothing they design
That was far from the case in the 1980s. Few could imagine when Karl Lagerfeld showed his debut collection for the house of Chanel – an austere grouping of ladylike garments – during the spring/summer 1983 haute couture season, that the German designer’s Monaco apartment was filled to the brim with Memphis-era furnishings.
Lagerfeld’s premiere collection was a revival of classic codes for the modern Chanel woman, drawing inspiration from Coco Chanel in the 1920s and 30s, re-imaged in a primarily black and white color pallet, for the sophisticated woman who preferred longer, leaner proportions.
At a time when Lagerfeld was sending crisp cotton shirts, lengthy black tweed sailor pants and matching, shrunken hats down the haute couture runway, his home was filled with wild colors, conflicting shapes, synthetic materials and graphic, 80s-era patterns. Karl’s entire Monaco apartment was stocked with slanted bookshelves and lamps by Memphis founder Ettore Sottsass, a bright, light-up dressing table by Michael Graves, atypical furniture my Peter Shire, colorful sofas by Marco Zanini, countless inventive wardrobes and cabinets by Michele De Lucchi, and even a Memphis Studio-designed television.
Lagerfeld’s Memphis obsession was soon a thing of the past, like the Rococo and Art Deco-era furnishings that came before, at separate times also completely overtaking the designer’s home, and in 1991 Lagerfeld auctioned off his entire collection through Sotheby’s. Judging by the recent resurgence and appreciation for Memphis furnishings and graphics, Karl Lagerfeld has once again been proven a visionary.