Fashions designers are not only known for their runway aesthetics but also a keen eye for architecture and interior design. There is a certain allure that is translated to their living spaces, whether clear cut minimalistic (which is usually not the case) or eccentrically over the top.
If you’ve watched Dries on Netflix, you have probably seen Dries van Noten’s Neoclassical estate home in the medieval town of Lier in Antwerp, Belgium. The house, built in the 1840s, looks majestic with its ornate oak stairways and Lyonnaise silk tapestry — dreamed up by the Belgian fashion designer and interior designer Gert Voorjans.
Alessandro Michele’s Italy home, on the other hand, is a former monastery perched in the hilltop village of Civita di Bagnoregio just two hours north of Rome. Set in a picturesque landscape, Michele’s mansion holds a collection of porcelain, a battalion of miniature portraits, and a flutter of feathered birds in Georgian gilded-cage music boxes.
While most are closed to the public – you can only see them in pictures – there are some iconic fashion designers’ homes that you can visit. They are either preserved as they once were, or repurposed by new owners. Here are seven that you should include in your bucket list, including the suite in the Ritz, Paris where Coco Chanel lived for 30 years, and Yves Saint Laurent’s vibrant cobalt blue sanctuary in Marrakech.
Yves Saint Laurent’s Villa Oasis in Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech
Saint Laurent discovered this property during his first visit to Marrakech in 1966. He purchased the place in 1980 and revived the two and a half acre botanical garden created by French Orientalist artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s with the help of botanist Abderrazak Benchaabane. Saint Laurent lived here with his partner Pierre Bergé until his death in 2008. Jardin Majorelle is now open to the public as a museum devoted to the work of the legendary fashion designer and is one of Morocco’s most popular landmarks.
Pierre Balmain’s riad, Marrakech
Much like Saint Laurent, Morocco was also a source of inspiration for renowned couturier Pierre Balmain during his time in Marrakech. The lavishly decorated 19th-century riad, previously owned by a prominent politician, became the base for Balmain for years. In its golden days, the riad was magical with traditional decoration, a mosaic-lined pool, and a lush garden. Today, the designer’s home is open to all in its latest reincarnation as Dar Moha, one of Morocco’s most popular restaurants.
Coco Chanel’s suite at the Ritz, Paris
Coco Chanel had an apartment above her boutique at 31 Rue Cambon (where Chanel’s flagship store is located today), but she spent most of her time in a second-floor suite at the Ritz from the mid-1930s to 1960s. It was also at the Ritz where she died in 1971. Her suite was refurbished in 2011 and the Ritz stayed true to the designer’s liking for monochrome, embellished with crystal chandeliers, gilded mirrors and Asian lacquer screens. It can be visited, of course, if you’re willing to fork out US$20,000 per night.
Anna Fendi’s Villa Laetitia, Rome
This Belle Epoque mansion by the Tiber was built in the early 1900s during Italy’s Fascist era. A century after, Villa Laetitia was bought over by Anna Fendi Venturini, one of the five Fendi sisters who returned the home to its former glory. The marble details, stuccos and fresco works were restored and juxtaposed with selected contemporary artworks as well as pieces from the Fendi home collection. Today, it is one of Rome’s most exquisite hotels with a Michelin-starred restaurant, Enoteca La Torre.
Il Borro, the Ferragamo estate in Tuscany
With a history dating back to the 13th century, Il Borro has been home to a long line of European royalty including the Medici of Florence and the Savoy dynasty. It moved into the hands of fashion royalty in 1993 when the Duke of Savoy sold the Tuscan estate to Ferruccio Ferragamo. Ferragamo, together with his son Salvatore restored the deteriorating Il Borro to its former glory and it is now open as a hotel with a restaurant and spa.
Gianni Versace’s Casa Casuarina, Miami
This luxurious 19,000 square feet Miami mansion was home to Gianni Versace from 1992 until 1997, the year he was shot dead in front of its doorstep. It is also the filming location for The Assassination of Gianni Versace. The house, equipped with a swimming pool tiled in 24-carat gold is synonymous to the Versace name – high-octane glamour encrusted in a multitude of frescoes, gold leaves, stained glass, and a huge image of Medusa in the mosaic garden. Since 2015, Casa Casuarina has been a luxury hotel with 10 grandiose suites and a renowned gourmet restaurant called Gianni’s.
Pierre Cardin’s Bubble Palace, Côte d’Azur
The Bubble Palace or Le Palais Bulles in French is an architectural homage to the curvilinear lines made famous in the early 1970s. The building is designed by architect Antti Lovag for a French industrialist between 1975 to 1989. It was aligned famously with its second owner, fashion designer Pierre Cardin until March 2017 when it was listed for sale with an asking price of US$130million. The Bubble Palace that overlooks the Bay of Cannes came to the public eye when Raf Simons presented his Dior resort collection there in 2015. This extraordinary home can be rented by the day for US$24,000.