“I feel everything I do for the first and last time.” How do you best honour a man that wanted nothing to do with his own past, a man who lived for the moment and was obsessed with looking forward? Well, if you’re Robert Carson, the artistic director and set designer who organised Karl Forever, the only answer is to put on a show that will make him last forever.
When Karl Lagerfeld tragically passed away in February at the age of 85, he forced an industry to collectively stand still in the wave of grief. In late June, when over 500 guests – including Anna Wintour, Claudia Schiffer, Baz Lurhmann and Valentino Garavani – descended upon Paris, the industry again paused, coming together to celebrate the life of an icon. As suitably fashionable guests arrived at the Grand Palais (a fitting locale as Lagerfeld’s preferred stage to host his industry-defining Chanel show) the designer was perched high on three giant screens strung across the Palais.
Tilda Swinton, dazzling in golden boots and sashing in her buttery cream coat, started the celebration with a literary reading. Cara Delevingne followed with a poem by Colette, Lagerfeld’s favourite poet. It was in honour of the designer’s now famed devotion to his Birman, Choupette, and there was not a dry eye in the room. The Chinese concert pianist, Lang Lang, performed on the grand piano designed by Karl himself back in 2003. Claudia Schiffer and Vanessa Paradis spoke of the designer’s remarkable knack for seeking out and nurturing new talent. The last performance of the night belonged to Pharrell, one of Lagerfeld’s favourite living musicians. He got everyone on their feet, dancing and throwing up peace signs (even the Princess of Hanover), concluding the night with his proclamation of love to Karl.
The house of Chanel have just released a highlights video from the celebration. Press play, this time only once, Karl wouldn’t want you to linger.