Paris (AFP, Reuters) - They call him the "kaiser", and Karl Lagerfeld came as close as you can to being crowned king of Paris on Tuesday when the French capital awarded the fashion designer its highest honour.
The 83-year-old German-born legend was given the Grand Vermeil medal by mayor Anne Hidalgo, who called him "an immense talent and a wonderful person". "Paris loves you - you are Paris," she told him under a scaled-down version of the Eiffel Tower built as the centrepiece of his Chanel haute couture show.
"Your genius and talent has made Paris even more magic, creative and beautiful," she said.
"I am a foreigner and we foreigners see Paris and France with another eye," he told a cheering crowd that included American singer Katy Perry and British actresses Tilda Swinton and Cara Delevingne.
He said that a "new day is dawning in France" after the election of President Emmanuel Macron, its youngest head of state in more than a century.
"Everyone is in love with Paris again, and with France, and wants to be here," said the designer, who has lived and worked in the city since 1952 when he and a young Yves Saint Laurent became firm friends.
"It's great also that French is again becoming a hip language. I want to say 'Vive la France!' and vive Paris for the Olympics in 2024!" he added, in a reference to the city's bid to stage the Games.
He presented Chanel's haute couture collection, with the 38cm tower straddling a catwalk inside the Grand Palais.
Models paraded in demure A-line skirts, hooded coats and wide-legged jumpsuits in classic Chanel tweed. They were crowned with matching bowler-style hats in keeping with the collection's vintage feel, although their transparent low block heels added a modern twist.
Another of Lagerfeld's labels, Fendi, is set to close the Paris fashion week on Wednesday.