Celebrity friends of Chanel’s late designer Karl Lagerfeld have staged a final tribute to him in Paris.
Portraits of Lagerfeld, who died in February, lined the walls of the Grand Palais on Thursday as models Claudia Schiffer and Gigi Hadid joined former French First Lady Carla Bruni and over 1,000 other mourners at a 90-minute memorial.
It featured live theatrical performances from Tilda Swinton and Dame Helen Mirren as well as music by Pharrell Williams.
Filmed interviewees included designer Valentino Garavani and Anna Wintour, the powerful US Vogue editor who opened the tributes.
Wintour said: “He was the original multi-tasker, a man who did everything at once.”
The presence of French First Lady Brigitte Macron was testament to the cultural status of the Chanel and Fendi designer, who was German yet dominated the Paris fashion industry for decades.
The couturier may have spent much of his life in the public eye — his trademark white ponytail, high starched collar and dark glasses were instantly recognisable — but he remained a largely elusive figure.
So the tribute that featured intimate filmed moments with Lagerfeld, as well as personal interviews with the designer’s inner circle recorded by Canadian opera director Robert Carsen, were all the more poignant.
Lagerfeld was famed as much for his sharp and witty tongue, as for his designs.
“My greatest luxury is not to have to justify myself to anyone,” Dame Helen quoted Lagerfeld as saying, during a theatrical reading on stage with a violinist.
“With me there’s nothing below the surface. It’s quite a surface,” she added, again quoting the designer, prompting chuckles from the crowd.
Lagerfeld was one of the most hard-working figures in the fashion world, joining luxury Italian fashion house Fendi in 1965 and later becoming its womenswear design chief in 1977, as well as leading designs at Paris’ family-owned powerhouse Chanel since 1983.
Lagerfeld was, until his death, simultaneously the creative head of two major global fashion brands and his eponymous brand, as well as an acclaimed photographer, stylist and filmmaker.
Revealed in the recorded material was also a rare interview with his successor, Virginie Viard, which hinted that the future direction for the multibillion-dollar fashion powerhouse might be closely aligned to Lagerfeld’s vision.
“Together we worked to create most beautiful possible collections, and today I’m trying to continue so that everything is perfect for him,” said Ms Viard.