PARIS — Mourners packed into the Grande Coupole at the Père-Lachaise cemetery on Thursday for the funeral services of French ready-to-wear pioneer Emmanuelle Khanh.
Joining friends and family of the designer, who died at her home here last Friday at 79 following a short battle with cancer, were Didier Grumbach, former head of the French fashion federation, Martine Sitbon, Vanessa Bruno and Sueo Irie.
Among the speakers, Claude Brouet, former deputy fashion editor of French Elle, described the outfit Khanh was wearing when she first met her in 1962, saying: “She had such a fresh attitude, in this tiny waistcoat that was longer at the front and a skirt with a slightly dropped waist. I asked where she got her outfit, and she told me she made it herself.
“Then, there were her glasses and her Vidal Sassoon haircut. I can remember her bringing him over to Paris to do a show,” recalled Brouet, adding that it was Khanh who introduced her to Paco Rabanne. “There she was in this mini waistcoat, only this time made from fine gold beads. I asked who it was by, and she said: ‘A Spanish friend who is doing couture jewelry.’”
Cacharel founder Jean Bousquet, for whom Khanh worked as a freelance designer in the early Sixties, lauded her unique vision. “Colors, fabrics, prints, volumes, lengths — you questioned everything,” he said.
Publicist Jacques Séguéla, a close friend of Khanh and her husband, engineer and designer Quasar Khanh, who died last year, said: “You were, you are, you will always be remembered as the woman in the glasses.”
The late designer’s son, Othello Khanh, shared one of his mother’s anecdotes from the Seventies, adding that he plans to publish a book full of the stories that she compiled over the years. “There was one time when she was doing a casting and this dark, hooded figure came swooping in, stripped off naked and lay on her desk. It was Grace Jones. Mother invited her to perform at her show. She sang ‘La Vie en Rose,’” he said.
Located in Paris’ 20th arrondissement, Père-Lachaise, the city’s largest cemetery, is also the final resting place of Marcel Proust, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Molière.