Fashion Industry Leaders Share Memories of Notre Dame Cathedral

Top shoe designers, fashion industry executives and influencers voiced their devastation about the fire that all but destroyed the Notre Dame Cathedral yesterday.

They also shared their personal memories with FN on what the cathedral meant to them — expressing hope for the future, pledging funds to the tune of some $340 million and offering praise for the French firefighters, the Pompiers, who finally extinguished the blaze at 10 a.m. Paris time.

Eric Goguey, CEO at 24 Sèvres

“We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that struck one of our greatest treasures last night. We are in awe of our hometown every day and stand together with the city of Paris as we rebuild.”

Gherardo Felloni, creative director at Roger Vivier

“Yesterday was a sad sad day for France, especially for Paris, but maybe also for the world. For me, the cathedral of Notre Dame was France’s most iconic monument. It was also my first memory of my first trip to Paris. Yesterday, it appeared so fragile to me amidst the devastation, but today, I feel more positive. It is still standing, and despite everything, it is still indescribably beautiful.”

Samuele Failli, designer

“My heart is in pieces. When I saw the news last night, I was in tears. The first time I saw Notre Dame, I was 16 and spent the afternoon there during a visit to Paris. I fell under the spell of the cathedral right away. I was overwhelmed by those beautiful blades of light cast by the rose window which tore away the darkness of the interior. It was a special feeling. When I moved to Paris to work at Alaïa, I still kept visiting. Sometimes if I found myself nearby, I would go and sit outside in front of the cathedral alone, have a cigarette and just drink it all in.”

Nicolò Beretta, designer at L’Autre Chose and Giannico

“Last time I went to Notre Dame was November, when I brought my 81-year-old grandmother there because she had never seen it. She was amazed by its beauty, and yesterday, she called me to say how lucky we were to have seen it one last time before the fire. Such things should not happen in our times.”

Alexia Aubert, designer at Jacques Solovière

“Growing up in Paris, we always had school visits to Notre Dame. I remember being fascinated by its colorful stained glass windows. As I grew up, I understood the historical importance it represents. I was devastated by the fire yesterday, but today, with the dawn of light, I somehow feel very confident and positive about the changes that will happen and what they will add to the history of France. A new generation will see a renewed architecture, a genuine mix of historic design and modern architecture.”

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and the Arnault family

“The Arnault family and the LVMH Group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are committed to assist with the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, symbol of France, its heritage and its unity. They will donate a total sum of 200 million euros ($226 million) to the fund dedicated to the reconstruction of this architectural work, which is a core part of French history. In the meantime, the LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the relevant authorities all its teams, including creative, architectural and financial specialists, to help with the long work of reconstruction and fundraising, which is already in progress.”

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Francois-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO at Kering 

“My father [François Pinault] and I have decided to release as of now from the funds of Artemis [the family’s investment arm] a sum of 100 million euros to take part in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame.”

David Tourniaire-Beauciel, creative director Clergerie / designer & cofounder Shoes 53045 

“My story is not a personal souvenir, instead it is this restored film by Guy Jones. It was a sequence shot in front of Notre Dame in 1890 where you can see everyday life in Paris back then. I found it really emotional to rewatch it today in the context of recent events. Tomorrow we are launching the Gothic version of the Shoes 53045 sneaker. Thinking about the Gothic architecture of Notre-Dame, it is a strange coincidence.”

Amina Muaddi, designer

“I was shocked when I saw the images yesterday evening as I was still working in my studio in Paris. I felt terribly sad. I used to go to pray in Notre Dame when my grandmother was very sick, before I even lived in Paris. It has such a majestic power. It gave me strength and hope every time I walked in it. But I have the same feeling of hope that Notre Dame will rise again.”

Valentina Bezuhanova, co-founder of By Far

“We are so sad to have witnessed this terrible event. We were watching it live from Bulgaria as the spire collapsed, it was truly heartbreaking. All our thoughts go to the brave firemen who did their best to save the cathedral and to Paris during this Holy Week.”

Elza Wandler, designer 

“People are going to think I made this up but five years ago when I was getting married I went to a designer vintage market right next to Notre-Dame to look for wedding shoes. I wasn’t even thinking about a dress at that point but I suddenly saw an amazing figure-hugging ’70s style piece. I though it would be too small but my friends persuaded me to try it on. It fitted so perfectly that I started crying, as did my friends and even the lady at the stall. And then the bells of Notre-Dame started tolling so we all decided it was a sign and it was definitely the dress.”

Ines de la Fressange, face of Roger Vivier

“I have recently been reading the works of Victor Hugo whose name is totally linked to Notre-Dame. Genius and masterpieces are what makes a country great. Notre-Dame is not only a church, it’s a symbol of culture, beauty, handcraft, patrimony, history and solidarity. We were all so saddened seeing all that destroyed but also shocked at how something that has existed for so long can disappear so quickly. It makes me think how ephemeral our lives are and what really matters. I was also impressed by the spontaneous generosity of benefactors like François-Henri Pinault and proud that through people like him, the fashion world immediately became involved.”

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