KARL LAGERFELD TO DESIGN PARIS BIENNALE
In his first ever venture designing fairs, 77-year-old fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld is turning his hand to the interiors of the 26th edition of the Paris Biennale, Sept. 14-23, 2012. The white-haired Lagerfeld -- who is best known as the designer for Chanel and Fendi, but is also a photographer who shoots all of the Chanel campaigns himself and shows his photos at the powerhouse Galerie Gmurzynska in Zurich -- is tackling the vetted Paris Biennale free of charge, whereas he reportedly receives €1 million for turning out a single handbag for Chanel.
Apparently, Lagerfeld didn’t care for the last edition, so he offered Christian Deydier, head of the powerful Syndicate National des Antiquaires, which organizes the show, to do the next one for free. “This era is different and I wanted to evoke, not reconstitute,” Lagerfeld said. As scénographer, the German-born Lagerfeld intends to make the biennale visitor immediately “feel enveloped by the atmosphere” of the Belle Époque, while avoiding the shopping-mall effect of so many fairs.
For the next biennale, once again staged in the storied Beaux-Arts Grand Palais, Lagerfeld will create a period Paris street scene, right down to the shop fronts.
The jewelry section is beefed up and, for this edition, Hong Kong jeweler Wallace Chan, plus Bulgari and Boucheron take stands under the dome of the Grand Palais, along with biennale regulars Piaget, Chanel, Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Dior and Harry Winston.
All told, the 150 exhibitors -- 80 percent Parisian -- are showcasing art and antiques that span 1,000 years in history and are from six continents. Both L&M Arts and Marlborough Gallery are participants in the 150-dealer strong fair, 64 of which are new to the show. A low estimate is that $50 billion in wares are to be shown on the fair floor, doubled in square footage this year, including a $35 million Paul Cézanne at Galerie Krugier from Geneva.
Booths are being designed by such luminaries as Jacques Grange, known for his work at the Mark Hotel and for Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Bergé, and Peter Marino, whose clients include financial titan Stephen A. Schwarzman.
BROOK S. MASON is U.S. correspondent for the Art Newspaper, and also writes for the Financial Times and other publications.