inside last night’s spectacular karl lagerfeld memorial in paris

With a star-studded line up including Pharrell, Cara Delevingne and Gigi Hadid, it was the perfect send-off for one of fashion’s most iconic personalities.

by Liam Hess
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21 June 2019, 11:24am

Image via Instagram

Following the unexpected death of Karl Lagerfeld in February, many expected a grand funeral that would match the towering vision of the designer -- plus, more selfishly, an opportunity to see hundreds of his iconic designs in one room. But when the announcement was released that he had been cremated and his ashes scattered in a secret location where his mother and ex-lover Jacques de Bascher had been previously laid to rest, disappointed fashion sleuths picked up on a typically pithy quote from Karl in a 2018 interview for Numéro magazine, where he noted that: “There will be no burial. I’d rather die.” So that’s that, then.

But on Thursday evening, in the middle of Paris Men’s Fashion Week, the two houses -- Chanel and Fendi -- that had been an integral part of Karl’s career for decades put on a very different kind of tribute. It was a memorial event that took place in the Grand Palais, where Karl had staged some of his most eye-popping spectacles for Chanel over the years. With a starry guest list of over 1,000 people that included some of Karl’s most famous collaborators -- including Pharrell, Victoria Beckham, Anna Wintour, Gigi Hadid and, of course, his cat Choupette -- the event was simply named Karl For Ever.

Against a grand backdrop of portraits of the designer shot by legendary photographer Annie Leibowitz, guests enjoyed an hour’s worth of readings and performances that paid tribute to Karl’s unique creative world. Presided over by none other than Cara Delevingne, one of Karl’s greatest muses who was enlisted as compère, here was Tilda Swinton reading from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Dame Helen Mirren reciting some of the designer’s sharp-witted quotes, and a performance from the Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang.

It was a fitting send-off for a designer whose influence continues to be felt in the fashion industry and beyond, allowing his closest friends and collaborators to pay tribute to a man outside of a traditional funeral format. But the real question we wanted to know was, who’s looking after Choupette? Don’t worry, Chanel has that covered: insiders confirm that upon the cat’s death, her ashes will also join the designer and his family at the burial site. How very Karl.