SEEING RED: Karl Lagerfeld switched on the Christmas lights Thursday night on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, bathing the street known as “the most beautiful avenue in the world” in red light.
The designer, who helms Chanel and Fendi, in addition to his own Karl Lagerfeld brand, arrived in his Rolls-Royce shortly before 7 p.m., flanked by his personal assistant Sébastien Jondeau. He was greeted by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel SAS, alongside a phalanx of the French luxury brand’s senior staff.
Wearing a silver-embroidered peacoat, Lagerfeld greeted a nine-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl who had been chosen to attend the ceremony by French charity Les Petits Princes, which arranges exceptional experiences for sick children.
After a 10-second countdown, Lagerfeld and Hidalgo, wearing a gold-embroidered black tweed jacket from Chanel’s 2010 Paris-Byzance Métiers d’Art collection, flipped the switch on the holiday decorations at 7:15 p.m., setting off an explosion of metallic confetti.
The new red color scheme was chosen to match an advertising campaign marking the launch of a limited-edition red bottle of Chanel No.5 perfume available for the holidays. Red banners bearing the label’s double-C logo were interspersed among the 400 plane trees lining the 1.4-mile-long Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
Speaking live on French television channel France 3, Lagerfeld praised the choice. “It’s a very pretty color. It brings to mind a red French wine, and all sorts of things. It’s very appropriate: Blue, white, red,” he said, referring to the colors of the French flag.
“I think it’s very elegant and discreet. It’s not at all flashy, and that’s what I like about it. Everyone thought it was going to be something glaring, and at the end of the day it brings to mind something festive, rather than aggressive, vulgar, commercial,” Lagerfeld added.
Hidalgo also approved of the new hue.
“Red and blue are the two colors of Paris — it’s very beautiful,” she said, in a possible allusion to the emblem of the Paris Saint-Germain football club. “But above all I am very happy that Karl Lagerfeld is here with us today. He is a great designer. He’s really someone who flies the flag for a great house, but also for France and Paris.”
Chanel has close ties with the Paris mayor, who in September attended a ceremony launching construction of a new site on the outskirts of Paris that will house its specialty ateliers.
As part of its efforts to enhance the city’s reputation as the capital of fashion, the house has pledged 25 million euros toward the renovation of the Grand Palais, where Lagerfeld stages his spectacular fashion shows, and will devote just under 5 million euros to the creation of permanent exhibition spaces at the Palais Galliera fashion museum.
Hidalgo last year honored Lagerfeld with a Grand Vermeil medal, the highest distinction the city can offer, declaring: “Paris loves you. You are Paris.”