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MIAMI — Karl Lagerfeld dropped in to Art Basel Miami Beach last weekend, checking out the fair Saturday and later arriving arm-in-arm with Ingrid Sischy at Mynt, where a crowd of international collectors, museum directors and local glitterati gathered around video monitors to watch Sischy’s 40-minute pre-recorded interview with the designer.

The gist? Clothes are clothes, and art is art. “It’s such a pretentious attitude that designers force the public to think they are making art,” he said. Lagerfeld unveiled five couture pieces designed especially for the evening and inspired by the Russian avant-garde movement of the Twenties. The dresses “will be on tour like rock stars,” said Lagerfeld, for the next several years, and will never be put up for sale.

This story first appeared in the December 10, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

But Lagerfeld, that notorious multitasker, had yet more of his work on display. A series of his photographs that paid homage to German artists Lyonel Feininger and Oskar Schlemmer hung at a booth run by Galerie Gmurzynska of Cologne, Germany, and his photos of Hollywood celebrities were shown in a free-standing shipping container at the fair. Lagerfeld tried to resist his collector’s instinct while touring the fair, as his walls are already filled. But, he said there could be one exception — artist Jenny Holzer’s BMW, covered in sayings.

Overall, the American debut of the Switzerland-based art fair here last week proved a major coup for the city, saving its cultural image from the cheesy one mass-marketed worldwide, thanks to the new Vice City edition of the Grand Theft Auto video game.

But Miami is still Miami, and the clubs were hopping.

On Tuesday, homegrown artists Naomi Fisher and Hernan Bas kicked off the week with mojitos on The Shore Club’s terrace. At the Javogue & Ingalls Gallery, photographer Bunny Yeager’s unveiled her Betty Page safari series. The following night, art dealer Jeffrey Deitch and local collector George Lindemann hosted one of the most talked about fetes at Lindemann’s 1937 mansion overlooking Biscayne Bay. Fischerspooner performed and Los Angeles artist Liza Lou admired her own glittering sculpture of red, orange and gold glass beads installed in Lindemann’s fireplace. Over at the Delano, Beefeater treated such guests as Nathan Lane, Anh Duong and Alison Spear to a lavish spread beneath a fireworks display.

On Thursday, the Miami Design District turned into a zoo as throngs of people snaked in and out of dozens of galleries. The VIPs escaped to a party where local developer and collector Craig Robins greeted guests Famke Janssen, Stephen Dorff and Katie Ford.

Rounding out the festivities was Alannah Weston’s bash at the Gallery at Windsor in Vero Beach, where the works of Christo and Jeanne-Claude were on display. NetJets ferried a fleet of art heavies including Nick Berggruen, Count and Countess Manfredi della Gherardesca and Violet Fraser from Miami for a round of parties before returning them safely to Miami Sunday night.

Now, that’s touring like a rock star.

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