PARIS — Business leaders in Europe no doubt breathed a sigh of relief Sunday night after Emmanuel Macron was elected the next president of France in what has been described as the most unpredictable election the country has seen in decades.
The center-left politician garnered 65.8 percent of the votes, decisively defeating far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of voting, according to an estimate on French state television France 2.
“We are all so happy,” Karl Lagerfeld told WWD Sunday after Macron had been declared the victor. “I know him and his wife very well. They are great people.”
A German national, Lagerfeld does not vote in France, and prefers to express his wry and irreverent opinions via political cartoons. “But I am a more than convinced European,” he said.
Referring to Le Pen, he added: “With this terrible woman, it would have been the end of Europe.”
The election was atypical for a host of reasons. It marked the first time in France’s history that neither the mainstream left- or right-wing party made it to the presidential run-off.
At 39, Macron will be the youngest French president since the start of the Fifth Republic. His party, En Marche (or On the Move), is just one year old, and Macron has never before run for elected office.
An hour after his win was made official, Macron took to the stage at his party’s headquarters. He sent a message of unity in a sober speech devoid of triumphalism.
“A new page of our long history opens tonight,” he said. “I want it to be that of restored hope and confidence.”
The new president then headed to the Louvre pyramid to celebrate his win with thousands of supporters waving French flags. Macron solemnly walked up to the podium alone to the sound of the “Anthem of Europe.”
“France won,” he declared, calling for the nation to rally together ahead of parliamentary elections in June that will be key to securing a majority for his government. “Tonight, Europe and the world are looking at us.”
Macron pledged to strengthen the economy and clean up politics after a campaign marred by accusations of corruption against several candidates.
“The task ahead is huge, and it will demand that we continue to be bold,” said Macron. “I will serve you with love.” He was then joined on stage by his wife, Brigitte Trogneux, and his stepchildren and step-grandchildren.
Fashion figures expressed elation and relief on Instagram.
Alber Elbaz scrawled “Vive La France” across four identical images of Macron’s faced covered with lipstick marks from a slew of kisses.
Jonathan Anderson, Loewe’s creative director, posted an image of Macron giving a thumbs up.
Simon Porte Jacquemus published text messages sent from his cousin Louis. It read (between two huge red hearts): “THE most Beautiful day OF MY life/Marine burns in hell/Vive LA France/And our freedoms.” Jacquemus added: “He is 15, my little cousin/Beauty of message/Love of country.”
Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s creative director, earlier in the day had posted a video of Macron posters and indicated that he himself had “Voted #emmanuelmacron #enmarche.”
Dior Joaillerie’s Victoire de Castellane published an illustration of Macron with a caption reading: “Le Président.”
Colette’s Sarah Andelman posted a black-and-white photograph of a child watching a wide-screen TV showing an image of the esplanade of the Louvre museum, where Macron was slated to give his celebratory speech. She wrote: “So happy for my little one and for my country!”
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac put up an illustration of a wave in the colors of the French flag accompanied by the words “La Jeune Vague En Marche” (or “The Young Wave On the Move”).
Inès de la Fressange put online a photo of a pensive Macron and wrote: “That’s France! No populism, youth, hope, modernity #macron @emmanuelmacron.”
The campaigning for president was particularly vicious, and late on Friday, Macron’s camp said his campaign was the focus of a massive hacking operation.
However, it was not the first time Le Pen’s National Front party had made it to the second round of a French presidential election. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2002 squared off against conservative candidate Jacques Chirac, who won the second round with a massive 82 percent of the vote.
While Macron was resoundingly the choice of business leaders for his pro-European stance and campaign based on financial reform, he was unpopular with large parts of the population, who have come to mistrust business and financial institutions.
In an oped piece in Les Echos newspaper published on Friday, Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton became the first major fashion industry executive to throw his weight behind Macron. Describing Le Pen’s platform as a “dead branch,” he cautioned that protectionism was not the solution to the economic and political turmoil roiling the world today.
Arnault described Macron’s program as a path of “hope and reason,” noting that it was built on the conviction that the private sector is key to job creation.
“I share this founding conviction without reserve: A company that is not hindered in its development, that is not thwarted from its growth path by unreasonable taxation or a cumbersome bureaucracy, has no other project but to invest, innovate and create sustainable employment,” said the executive.
Arnault concluded by saying: “It is without hesitation that I will vote for Emmanuel Macron.”
In the run-up to the election Sunday, fashion industry figures had privately expressed fears that many voters would abstain from going to the polls on Sunday, which falls in the middle a long holiday weekend.
Few ventured to speak on the record, and economic issues took second place in an ideological debate that has pitted the country’s blue-collar workers against its educated elite, with campaign rhetoric that at times echoed the U.S. election that brought to power Donald Trump.
Macron has numerous ties to the fashion industry. He is reportedly close to entrepreneur and tech billionaire Xavier Niel, partner of Delphine Arnault, executive vice president of Louis Vuitton and daughter of Bernard Arnault.
It is said that she offered Macron’s wife style advice during his time as a minister. Trogneux has often worn Louis Vuitton and twice attended the brand’s fashion shows. She has also been spotted at Dior, another brand within the LVMH fold.