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Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel who died today at the age of 85, was a Renaissance man. In addition to his day job churning out numerous collections a year for Chanel, Fendi, and his own eponymous label, he managed to forge a multitude of admired mini careers. He was a photographer, a publisher, a stylist, an illustrator, a gallerist, a director, a curator, a costume designer, and a conjurer of fine tableware and deluxe furnishings—his collection of marble lamps, tables, and more for Carpenter’s Workshop, created in collaboration with architect Aline Asmar d’Amman and inspired by Greek antiquity, made its debut in October. Lagerfeld was also an adventuresome collector and a thrilling decorator, largely for himself, embracing wide-ranging styles and modes for a variety of residences and then discarding them with impressive rapidity by a man who prided himself on his lack of sentimentality.
“I like to collect, but I’m not crazy to own things,” Lagerfeld once told The New York Times. “I’m a fashion person. I’m excited by finding things, but in the end there’s an accumulation and I want to get rid of it.”
In the 1970s, the 40-something fashion designer created his first grown-up apartment in an 18th-century building on Paris’s Place Saint-Sulpice, where he devised a black-and-white decor that recalled the slinky days of the 1920s with Jazz Age treasures such as Jean Dunand vases and Eugène Printz tables—which he sold at Sotheby’s Paris in 2003. Head-spinningly, he went through a fully immersive Memphis moment in the early 1980s, adopting the kooky provocations of the short-lived Italian design group for his penthouse in Monte Carlo, only to abandon most of it at Sotheby’s Monaco in 1991.
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