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Cars, Birkins, and Dead Bugs: Expensive Things Designers Collect

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Here at Racked, we're dedicating this week to the kind of fantastical shopping that most of us only get to experience in dreams (or at 80%-off sample sales). Taking a page from casino parlance, we'll be talking a lot about "whales," those big spenders who feel perfectly comfortable dropping tens of thousands of dollars every night on roulette, or, in our case, on Cartier. Welcome to Whale Week 2013.

Image via RalphLauren.com

It takes many years of hard work and elbow grease to succeed in the fashion industry, but the few who make it have a pretty sweet view from the top. So what do they do with a pile of money, oodles of taste, and houses to spare? Why, start a hobby, of course. Here we present seven of fashion's biggest designers and their other collections.—Lauren D. Shinn

Ralph Lauren: Classic Cars
Meet the designer who owns 60 or so of the most exquisite, valuable cars in the world, from vintage Ferraris to a 1938 Bugatti and rare finds from Porsche, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, and other fancy names. Lauren's collection is so extensive that it earned itself a book and a museum exhibition, most recently stopping in Paris last year. Though the exact worth of the car collection appears to be under wraps, Forbes reports that Ralph Lauren himself has a net worth of around $4.6 billion, making him the 173rd richest person in the world. We're thinking that should get you a decently stocked garage.

Mary Kate Olsen with former boyfriend, artist Nate Lowman. Photo via Getty.

Mary Kate Olsen: Art
Mary Kate Olsen has been collecting a sizable paycheck since she was nine months old, so presumably not many objects are out of her reach. A chunk of her disposable income reportedly goes to fund an eclectic collection of art ranging from Andy Warhol to Araki, a Japanese photographer known for his controversial images of nude, bound women. "All I really need is my bed and my art around me," she has told Elle. But her history of dating artists suggests she also enjoys combining her two needs, no?

Photo via Oh Boom

Victoria Beckham: Birkin bags
It's rumored that the designer formerly known as Posh Spice owns more than a hundred Hermes Birkin bags, which would be quite a feat even if they were all priced at a relatively reasonable $7,000. However, her collection also includes several exotic editions (think crocodile and ostrich) costing upwards of $13,000 each. Luckily she is birthing an entire army of future models, which should help support her bag habit if times get touch.

Marc Jacobs: Contemporary Art
Marc Jacobs began collecting art of all kinds in 2002. Before that, he says he was intimidated: "I had it in my mind that only incredibly grand, extremely wealthy people lived with art of any sort," he has said. Let's ignore the fact that Marc Jacobs is in fact incredibly grand and extremely wealthy and move on to the happy ending: Now he describes his art-collecting hobby as "Typical addict behavior ... I started going to galleries, and I kind of went mad."

Claudia Schiffer models her eponymous knitwear line, which was inspired in part by her love of bugs.

Claudia Schiffer: Dead bugs, and other insect-related memorabilia
Yes, you read that right: the German supermodel-turned-designer has a thing for insects. Her walls are lined with paintings of them, the logo for her knitwear line is a scribbly spider, and she owns her fair share of dead creepy-crawlers, which she likes to mounts on the wall. What do you think she does when she finds a live bug in her home?

Photo via The Whole Pretty

Jason Wu: Dolls
Michelle Obama's go-to designer collects a little bit of everything. He told the Wall Street Journal that he buys two books every week and has a stock of old magazines from the '40s and '50s, but he also loves Renaissance art, modern art, movies, and dolls. Yes, dolls. Before FLOTUS turned Wu into a household name, the designer created and sold his own line of collectible dolls, some of which he still has.

Photo via FashionPhile

Tommy Hilfiger: Louis Vuitton trunks
The All-American designer collects vintage Louis Vuitton trunks that were originally designed as luggage for long cruises. But Hilfiger doesn't take them along on yacht trips; rather, he uses the chests as furniture in his bedroom, living room, and library. The one pictured above serves as a coffee table.

· All Whale Week coverage [Racked]