Karl Lagerfeld before he was THE Karl Lagerfeld: That’s what an auction Saturday in West Palm Beach is all about.
Palm Beach Modern Auctions has a 50-year-old archive of sketches, many of them by the fashion maestro behind the French house of Chanel, the Italian house of Fendi and an eponymous label. These pen and pastel drawings, however, were created during Lagerfeld’s stint in the 1960s at the Rome-based couturier Tinziani...before he began to make a name at Chloe in the 70s.
The drawings, along with fashion, furniture and decorative art from the midcentury era, will be auctioned off beginning at noon Saturday.
“Tiziani was Evan ‘Buddy’ Richards, and he was this opera singer who went to Rome and then went into the fashion business and changed his name,” auctioneer Rico Baca says. “Between ’63 and ’69, Lagerfeld worked with him. And during those years, they did things for Elizabeth Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida and [jet-setting heiress] Doris Duke. They collaborated with some things from the collection in Liz Taylor movies ‘Boom!’  and ‘The Comedians’ . They also did a lot of personal [designs] with Taylor, not just the movies.”
Of the 500 lots, Baca says, 400 are fashion-related. “There is one coral gown with a feathered cape, that is the only dress where we have the drawing for it,” the auctioneer says. “We even have a photo done on the street and the contact sheets.”
When Tiziani died in 1994, his life partner Raf Ravaioli inherited the archives. He then passed them on to his partner, a South Floridian who prefers to remain anonymous, who showed them to Baca.
“He had them in storage…and he had assigned other stuff to us before, so we knew each other well. He showed me all of this Liz Taylor and I said, ‘Well, I think we can do something with this.”
Palm Beach Modern Auctions is at 417 Bunker Road, in West Palm Beach. Bidders can register at ModernAuctions.com. Call 561-586-5500.