Karl Lagerfeld’s first branded luxury residences — slated to open in Marbella, Spain around late 2023 — boast mirror-like siding; bookshelves galore; windows that perfectly frame the natural landscape, and the “lightness” that was among the most defining characteristics of everything the legendary fashion designer touched.
On Thursday, Spanish developer Sierra Blanca Estates unveiled scale models of the five unique villas at Lagerfeld headquarters on the Rue Saint Guillaume in Paris, decked out for the day in exotic plants and displays of the key materials: black and white terrazzo for flooring, pale woods and the reflective, ceramic-like tiles finished with white gold dust that give these homes a modernist gleam.
The sleek residences, ranging from about 5,400 to 9,700 square feet in size, are to thrust luxury living into the eco age with carbon-neutral construction, solar panels and geothermal energy — plus roof gardens and greenery galore, as much for insulation and shade as their natural beauty.
The sales campaign for these trophy homes won’t kick off until February or March of 2022, but Sierra Blanca chief executive officer Carlos Rodriguez said he’s already fielding serious inquiries.
“We are showing that luxury living can be sustainable,” he said, calling the Karl Lagerfeld Villas an “iconic” project crowning a string of developments that have made Marbella a top destination for international high rollers. “This is the direction we want to keep moving in.…There’s an added value to a sustainable project, and people are willing to pay for it.”
He noted that the Karl Lagerfeld company has done just that with fashion, headlined by its recent and forthcoming collaborations with its sustainability ambassador Amber Valletta.
Karl Lagerfeld CEO Pier Paolo Righi noted that fashion brands have proven that one needn’t forsake style to be eco-friendly. Likewise, the sustainable elements of the forthcoming villas “blend so nicely, and they amplify the beauty and the luxury connotation. It doesn’t take away anything, it just adds.”
Prices for the villas will only be provided upon request next year, but they are believed to be in the tens of millions given the prime real estate — offering views of the Mediterranean and the Penibaetic mountains — and lavishly landscaped grounds free of cars, which roll directly into underground garages with light streaming in from windows set into the swimming pool hugging one wall of each of the homes.
“Luxury today is also how you spend your time,” said Andrea Boschetti, the architect of the villas, some built in V- or Y-shaped configurations, and all with nearly transparent ground floors to give the feeling of living in nature.
According to Righi, Boschetti came to the project with a deep understanding of Lagerfeld’s varied taste in architecture and interiors, and his passion for photography, which inspired the modular windows that frame elements of the landscape as if through a viewfinder.
To be sure, the late designer was firmly against any “cookie-cutter approach” to architecture, and would surely be impressed by the bespoke approach of the developer and The One Atelier, a real estate consultancy specializing in branded projects, having worked with Sierra Blanca on Epic Marbella, a complex of 28 luxury apartment and town houses that boast furnishings by Fendi Casa.
“Branded residences are growing really, really fast,” said Michele Galli, CEO of The One Atelier.
While hotel operators were the first movers, more fashion and luxury brands are entering the fray, offering not only a glamorous name, but also plenty of content, design principles and strident quality and image standards.
“The brand is becoming like a certificate of quality,” Galli said. “To own a branded residence means that the value of this residence will become higher, or will be stable in the future.”
Rodriguez likened the Karl Lagerfeld Villas to art pieces, given the attention to detail and the amount of storytelling built into the concept.
Sierra Blanca Estates is the company behind what it bills as “the Beverly Hills of Marbella,” having developed dozens of villas in a variety of styles.
Galli said all the partners in the project spent more than six months researching the Karl Lagerfeld company and learning about the late founder, with longtime communications and image director Caroline Lebar sharing valuable lore about his various homes and his passion for interiors and architecture in order to identify the key brand codes to exalt in the villas.
“Clients are looking for new experiences. And with the help of brands, you are able to offer this,” Rodriguez said. “The brand creates a desirability it creates a uniqueness.”
Before his passing in February 2019, Lagerfeld had been ramping up his activities in hotels and residences. A 270-room luxury hotel he designed in Macau, a project initiated in 2014 and billed as a “six-star” property, is set for a soft opening next month.
The brand also recently launched a range of branded hotel amenities with Australia’s Vanity Group.
The Lagerfeld company plans to develop furnishings and objects to offer clients the full brand customization in Marbella, up to and including helping to fill shelves with the designer’s favorite photo and design books.