Model and actress Cara Delevingne, dressed in a pink feathered dress, took to the stage to perform a poem by French writer Colette, one of Lagerfeld’s favorite authors.
Delevingne recited verses from Colette’s writings about cats while pictures of Lagerfeld’s pet Burmese Choupette were shown on the screen, including a photo of the designer hard at work at his desk with Choupette sprawled among his drawings.
The video then cut to Françoise, the cat’s governess, holding Choupette herself.
Giant screens and portraits of the designer were displayed around the hall of the Grand Palais, such as black-and-white self-portraits or images of the designer shot by photographer Annie Leibovitz.
The main stage welcomed a rotating cast of top film and music stars, all with ties to the late designer, who died Feb. 19 after an unprecedented fashion career.
Tilda Swinton, dressed in a tweed peplum jacket and bloomers, recited an extract from Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando,” one of the designer’s favorite works.
“Clothes wear us and not we them,” she declared. “They change our view of the world, and the world’s view of us.”
Dame Helen Mirren read excerpts of “The World According to Karl,” a book of quotes by the designer published in 2018, alongside violinist Charlie Siem, punctuating every quote with a piece of music.
The event also included tributes from executives including Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton; Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel and president of Chanel SAS; Sidney Toledano, ceo of LVMH Fashion Group; Serge Brunschwig, ceo of Fendi, and Pier Paolo Righi, ceo of Karl Lagerfeld.
Alain Wertheimer, the secretive ceo of Chanel, allowed himself to be interviewed for the first time. Asked why he hired Lagerfeld in 1983, he said: “Above all, I was seduced by the prospect of having conversations with him.”
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