Fashion's Night In: The Home of a Couple That's Never Home

For a busy couple constantly on the move, a wide-open loft filled with their favorite finds allows them to relax, recharge, and rendezvous. 

Herman van Hoey and Eugeen van Groenweghe
OF 5

You’d know that Pier Paolo Righi and Iris Epple worked in fashion even if you just passed them on the street. Both exude the kind of casual perfection that comes from a lifetime spent immersed in the industry. As for their Amsterdam apartment, with its 50 shades of white, exquisitely curated black-and-white photography, eclectically assembled furnishings, and expansive closet space, well, that’s a bit of a giveaway, too. “I’d love to say we don’t spend all our time talking about fashion and retail,” says Righi, a half-Italian, half-German 49-year-old, “but it wouldn’t be entirely true.” 

Not that they have much time to chat. In his position as the president and CEO of Karl Lagerfeld International, Righi spends six months of the year away from Amsterdam, often in his Paris apartment near the Rue Montorgueil. And Epple, the German 50-year-old president of brand management at Calvin Klein Europe, often travels to Asia, so she’s away even more. “It’s why our home is so important,” Righi says. “We need to be able to reconnect immediately when we are here, and this big, beautiful space somehow makes that much easier.” 

But such uninterrupted expanses of real estate aren’t easy to come by in the Dutch capital. The pair’s previous place was more typical by far—a narrow canal house arranged over several floors, room stacked upon room. “It was on Prinsengracht, right on the canal, and it was a beautiful place to be for a few years, just watching the boats go by,” Righi says. “But you’d go out the door and every second person would ask where the Anne Frank House was!” Today, with their apartment tucked away behind an older house, and a stone’s throw from the commanding Amstel Hotel—the city’s oldest five-star, occupying a handsome mid-19th-century building—life is more serene. “Finding it was pure coincidence,” says Righi, who’d been on a visit to a more classical option next door. 

The apartment was a car-repair and sheet-metal workshop until its previous owner, an interior designer named Michiel van Fastenhout, reconfigured its 2,800 square feet of living space about a decade ago. In his wake he left a string of successful additions: a Bulthaup kitchen; an expansive central space, 52 by 52 feet with a 16-foot-high ceiling; and a series of half-height walls that bring intimacy to the areas beyond. “He put in the fireplace where the car lift used to be,” says Righi. “It’s one of our preferred places. In the winter we’ll light a fire, make a drink, and just collapse in front of it.” 

Righi’s favorite spot, though, is the wine cellar, a small room that was once the supervisor’s office and is still accessed by the original industrial gray door. “It’s the smallest space we have. We lay the table with a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth, serve my tagliatelle Bolognese—I cook the sauce for two to three days—fill our glasses with Brunello di Montalcino, and pretend we’re in Tuscany or Rome,” he says with a laugh. 

Between them Righi and Epple have had stints in Milan and Vienna, with frequent travels to New York. “Iris ran the European and then the international retail division for Tommy Hilfiger for years, before joining Calvin Klein in 2013,” says Righi. “In fact, the pink custom made Turkish rug in the library is part of the Hilfiger story. They were in all the Tommy stores years ago.” Epple even admits that part of the apartment’s appeal was its resemblance to Hilfiger’s New York office, where she’d always loved working: elegant, but still showing its industrial roots. 

Righi, for his part, left Nike five years ago to join the Karl Lagerfeld brand, where Lagerfeld is the creative director. “We work together. He’s not my boss, he’s my partner in crime!” says Righi of contemporary fashion’s most enduring exponent. “But most importantly, he is the most incredible source of inspiration. Everyone loves working with Karl. He’s not a diva. He’s a professional.” 

Together they have already opened 50 stores in the past three years, with one branch due to appear in New York’s SoHo by the end of this year. Products range from ready-to-wear to sneakers and bags, Lagerfeld’s trademark eyewear, and even Lagerfeld dolls. “We don’t have specially designated brand ambassadors,” says Righi, “because the people who love Karl wear the product anyway, whether it’s Kendall Jenner or whoever.” A children’s line was also recently introduced. “Designed entirely with his godson, Hudson, in mind,” says Righi, referring to the golden-haired seven-year-old catwalk native (he started strutting at age two) whose parents are model Brad Kroenig and Nicole Bollettieri (daughter of the famous tennis coach Nick Bollettieri). Hudson is Lagerfeld’s adored mini-muse and Cara Delevingne’s runway buddy. 

If Righi, by his own admission, is a follower of Italian style—“Today’s pretty typical; I’m wearing a navy cashmere by Aspesi and gray flannel Incotex pants, and gray suede Lanvin shoes”—his and Epple’s home is a rather more eclectic affair. Rustic wooden stools and tables come courtesy of Epple’s father. “He’s a hunter who lives in the middle of a German forest,” says Righi, “and we tell him what we need, and it will suddenly appear. He made us these little wooden stools about a year ago.” Other purchases are more spontaneous, including the striking Harland Miller artwork that brings a dramatic swath of color to their monochrome world. “That was exactly a year ago, and I’d just come back from Australia, so I had a day off,” recalls Righi. “I wandered into the Reflex Gallery after a visit to the Rijksmuseum and I came out with this painting!” And with that, he pops on a helmet, hops onto his black Vespa, and rattles off down Amsterdam’s pretty cobbled streets.  

Pictured: In the living room, Harland Miller artwork stands next to an Atlantic tripod lamp from Eichholtz (to the trade; eichholtz.com). 

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