Getting Cozy with Coco: Touring the Private Villas of Fashion Icons

Granville, France

Christian Dior’s cotton-candy-pink childhood home sits on a seaside cliff top in Normandy. “Our house at Granville, like all Anglo-Norman buildings at the end of the last century, was perfectly hideous,” he remembered in “Dior by Dior,” his autobiography. “All the same I look back on it with tenderness as well as amazement. In a certain sense, my whole way of life was influenced by its architecture and environment.” Opened to the public as Musée Christian Dior in 1997, the house currently welcomes visitors to the exhibition “Treasures of the Collection: 30 Years of Acquisitions,” on display until January 6. The Château de la Colle Noire in the Grasse region, which Dior bought and restored in the last years of his life, will open to visitors for a few days in October.

SURREAL ESTATE From left: Salvador and Gala Dali at Coco Chanel’s La Pausa villa, circa 1938; a replica of La Pausa at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Coco Chanel

La Pausa

Dallas Museum of Art, Texas

Coco Chanel used the apartment above her Paris boutique for entertaining and lived in a suite at the nearby Ritz hotel. Chanel’s spiritual home, however, was La Pausa, the French Riviera villa she built in 1928. The building is not open to the public, but parts of the interior have been recreated in the Dallas Museum of Art, using many of the original furnishings. In contrast to Chanel’s exuberantly mirrored and lacquered Paris digs, the villa had a stark, almost monastic look reminiscent of the cloistered convent orphanage where she was raised, complete with heavy doors, iron grids, vaulting and austere wooden furnishings.

The Villa Casa Casuarina.

Gianni Versace

The Villa Casa Casuarina

Miami, Florida

For the last five years of his life, Gianni Versace lived in this 19,000-square-foot South Beach mansion that dates from 1930; he was shot and killed on its doorstep in 1997. His over-the-top aesthetic lives on inside—and how. Mythological frescoes, statues and fountains festoon the house, now an intimate hotel. Versace’s Medusa logo is as ubiquitous as Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys; the largest version, a mosaic patio beside the gold-tiled pool, was created in Versace’s Italian hometown of Reggio Calabria, broken apart, then reassembled in Miami.

Yves Saint Laurent

Villa Oasis

Marrakech, Morocco

In 1980, Yves Saint Laurent bought and restored a botanical garden and the adjacent Villa Oasis in Marrakech (the former estate of French painter Jacques Majorelle). He lived there with his partner, Pierre Bergé, until his death in 2010. “Before Marrakech, everything was black,” Saint Laurent once said. “This city taught me color, and I embraced its light, its insolent mixes and ardent inventions.” Today, the Jardin Majorelle is Morocco’s most popular tourist attraction, though it faces competition from the Musée Yves Saint Laurent, opened in 2017. Private tours of the villa can be booked through the Four Seasons Marrakech with a donation to the Foundation Jardin Majorelle.

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