PARIS — Jean-Louis Scherrer’s last wish — that his family and close friends assemble at Église Saint-Sulpice on Paris’ Left Bank for a service of music and prayer in his memory — was carried out Tuesday evening.
The ceremony came following scheduling issues and a delay due to electrical problems in the church, which dates back to the 17th century and is home to the Great Organ of Saint-Sulpice.
It was this organ that inspired the musical program — short, yet to the point: Daniel Roth played Johann-Sebastian Bach’s choral “Erbarm dich mein, O Herr Gott” BWV 721, while Natascha Figaro gave her interpretation of Richard Strauss’ “Wiegenlied” and Richard Wagner’s “Im Treibhaus.”
“These are the pieces he listened to without respite before his passing,” explained Jean-Louis Lacroix, the parish priest of Saint-Sulpice. “He had turned toward beauty and toward music in search for appeasement.”
The French couturier died June 20 at age 78 after a long illness and was put to rest at the crematorium of the city’s Père Lachaise cemetery on June 26. Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Stéphane Rolland and Didier Grumbach, among others, attended the service, bidding farewell to the man whose list of clients included Jacqueline Kennedy and Sophia Loren.
Tuesday’s service was more intimate and highly emotional. Fighting back tears, Scherrer’s daughter Leonor, a designer herself and muse to Givenchy artistic director Riccardo Tisci, gave a recollection of her father’s year-long struggle and the secret understanding she shared with him.
“There were many good-byes,” she remembered. “They kept transferring him from one hospital to the other; in the end, I didn’t think he would go at all. Finally, I said: ‘I’m leaving.’”
The young woman retreated to Saint Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt and would not witness her father’s death.
“He died exactly at the moment when I received communion,” she said, bursting out in tears. “That’s incredible.”