The story behind Karl Lagerfeld’s pearl white Monaco villa

Karl Lagerfeld Villa La Vigie Monaco
Edge Retreats

Like the watchman looking out for enemy ships from which it takes its name, the Villa La Vigie dominates the Mediterranean. Not as ostentatious as the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, and by far not as quirky as the Greek-inspired Villa Kerylos, La Vigie is one of the more discreet historic mansions of the French Riviera, steeped in history and luscious Mediterranean flora. 

It stands not on the utmost point of Cap-Martin, where the Riviera almost becomes an island, but hidden in the shrubs of Roquebrune, safely on the coast.

In French, “La Vigie” means “the lookout” or “the watchman”, an appropriate name for a villa overlooking the sea. With high alabaster ceilings and an overflow of Corinthian columns, the Villa La Vigie stands just a few hundred meters away from the French-Monégasque border.

© Edge Retreats

La Vigie was built in 1902 for Sir William Ingram of Illustrated London News. Rumour has it that Ingram had an array of rare animals and exotic birds roaming freely about the property. 

Then came the second world war and German occupation. In the early 40s, the Villa La Vigie became an observation post for German forces, who turned the villa’s gardens into trenches by covering them in barbed wire and minefields. 

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It is in the late 1980s that the villa welcomed its most illustrious resident. In 1988, Karl Lagerfeld, who at the time was busy making Chanel fashionable again, bought La Vigie and completely renovated it. 

The 600 square meter villa boasts 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 dressing rooms, as well as a billiard room, and a library. It is surrounded by Mediterranean gardens and has a 237 square meter terrace.

© Edge Retreats
© Edge Retreats
© Edge Retreats

“It’s the safest place in the world,” Lagerfeld reportedly told W Magazine in 1988. “It’s impossible to get near the place. No public road passes by and you have to go through two gates to get inside. It doesn’t even have an address, so no one can write to me here.” Lagerfeld would keep the house until the late 90s. 

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2021 marks the villa’s return into the spotlight thanks to the brand that made it famous in the first place – Chanel. The Chanel Spring Summer 2021 campaign was entirely shot in Monaco and at Villa la Vigie. The campaign stars philosophy graduate, equestrian, model, and all-round Monaco darling, Charlotte Casiraghi.

Charlotte Casiraghi in Chanel’s spring 2021 advertising campaign shot at Villa la Vigie. © Chanel

The Villa La Vigie can be rented on a weekly or monthly basis at an undisclosed price. 

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View on Monaco from the villa’s gardens. © Edge Retreats
View of the Villa la Vigie from Monaco. © Edge Retreats