Karl Lagerfeld shares his secret to appreciating the allure of Paris

Image: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes
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Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and the city of Paris held a mutual appreciation ceremony on July 4. The city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, awarded Lagerheld its highest honor and he put on a fall 2017 Chanel couture fashion show that was Parisian from set to stitch.

Lagerfeld’s show was a tribute to the City of Light and its residents. “It’s a vision of a revived Parisian woman. It is all about cut, shapes, silhouettes,” he said of the collection. Models wore newish takes on classic looks of 20th-century Paris, including Coco’s own trademark bowler hat.

Chanel’s head designer even had the Eiffel Tower reconstructed for the show—a towering wood and steel replica set inside the Grand Palais. It took six weeks to build and seemed to extend beyond the ceiling and into the sky, an illusion created by fake clouds. Attendees watched the event on metal folding chairs placed in sand, under the tower’s shadows, as if they sat near the real thing, not far away.

The German designer has spent decades living in Paris, and designs for what is perhaps France’s most iconic house. Still, he considers himself a stranger in the French capital. Lagerfeld revealed this after Hidalgo presented him with La Medaille Grand Vermeil de la Ville de Paris. 

“Paris loves you. You are Paris,” the French mayor told him at a ceremony that followed the fashion show.

Yet Lagerfeld insists he isn’t Paris, actually. That’s the key to perceiving the city’s beauty, he says. He is able to appreciate the place because he’s not fully at home there.

“I am a foreigner and I intend to stay a foreigner because foreigners see Paris and France through a different eye,” he explained, as he accepted the award from Hidalgo. “And when you are not French, you look without nationalism or patriotism… Long live Paris.”