1 May 2021 Susannah

Meet A Book Addict – Karl Lagerfeld

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.

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Featured image credit- Karl Lagerfeld – Book Addict, https://www.dw.com/de/wichtiges-und-unwichtiges-zum-tag-der-buchliebhaber/a-54460132

Comments (7)

  1. Leona Buchester

    On closer inspection, Karl Largerfeld seems to have his books in stacks of 6 to 8. Also there is long shelving underneath to support these sections. It looks as though they are all in some sort of sequence, as he does have some stacked vertically as well. What a brilliant idea! Makes sense to me. I also stack some of my books vertically and some horizontally, depending on the space, and the category as well. This allows easy access. Love this posting. Thank you Susannah for such wonderful content in your newsletter. Just a blessing at this time.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I don’t think I could stack my books as he does, but every book addict has to find the method that suits them best, as well as coping with that perennial problem of running out of shelf space.
      So glad you enjoy my newsletter!

  2. Leona Buchester

    On closer inspection, Karl Largerfeld seems to have his books in stacks of 8 to 10. Also there is long shelving underneath to support these sections. It looks as though they are all in some sort of sequence, as he does have some stacked vertically as well. What a brilliant idea! Makes sense to me. I also stack some of my books vertically and some horizontally, depending on the space, and the category as well. This allows easy access. Love this posting. Thank you Susannah for such wonderful content in your newsletter. Just a blessing at this time.

  3. Madeleine Welsh

    I think this a wonderful idea.. I know where my books at home all sit but would love the local library to shelve books this way. Bring older I cannot bend low enough to read titles on lower shelves and get a stiff neck turning to read titles on upper shelves. This is a sad but true fact. Love the library though.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, it certainly makes it easier to read titles, but surely a big pain when the book you want is at the bottom of the pile. It is a great photo of him with all his books, isn’t it.

  4. Angela Campbell

    I adore that photo! Lagerfeld’s insouciance as he stands on his coffee table is quite remarkable. I love the aesthetic with the books arranged on the shelves behind him in such a way as to appear to be an abstract backdrop.. Thanks for that Susannah – I’m off to rearrange my bookshelves !

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