Did you know that fashion designer and photographer Karl Lagerfeld was also an avid book collector? He ended up with 300,000 books, one of the largest personal libraries in the world. Staying true to his desire to do things differently, Lagerfeld decided to stack his books horizontally – he did not want to tilt his head in order to read the titles. This manner of shelving his books seems to have resulted in much on-line discussion, in face more than any talk about what his books are actually about. His library (in his home in Paris) had, appropriately, a catwalk to reach its upper levels, and wheeled ladders and spiral staircases which helped him get to his books. However, such a way of storing one’s books does mean a huge effort when the particular volume you want is sitting at the bottom of a pile!
Lagerfeld’s books were in German (his native language), French and English. They included many books on fashion and other designers, photography, thousands of books on art (as a young man, he studied art history in Rome), and volumes of history. He was a voracious reader, but reading 300,000 books would require a lifetime of doing little else but reading. He loved showing his collection to anyone who visited his home. Lagerfeld also wrote books – about little black jackets, on Chanel and other fashion icons, and about diets.
Karl Lagerfeld died in 2019 and I’ve not been able to find any information about what has happened to his vast library. If you know more, please tell me! Do you, or could you, shelve your books in the same way as Lagerfeld? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.