If you think fashion is frivolous? Think again…

Notre Dame de Paris: illustration by Douglas St. Denis

If you ever thought fashion was frivolous, think again…

A raging fire in the fashion capital mon dieu. Most days my lifestyle feels as beautiful as the love and joy I put into it.  Still, when I saw the images of the roof and spire of Notre Dame spitting fire and toppling over on the news this past Monday, my heart sank in utter despair. I felt a feeling of devastation – as if the world was coming to an end. At least the world I knew once upon a time.

In my 20’s I had spent 10 years living in Paris on the tiny island just behind the great cathedral named L’Isle Saint Louis. In the evenings and weekends my friends and neighbors would sit outside at our favorite “local” “The Brazz”…aka Brasserie de L’Isle Saint Louis, drinking vin rose’ and basking in the glow of the rose windows and flying buttresses of the gothic cathedral we all know as Notre Dame de Paris just across the tiny bridge to L’Île de la Cité.

Each day I would pass Our Lady of Paris on my way to catch the RER line to Les Halles where I’d change trains for the main metro line to get to my bookings at the House of ChanelChanel Couture Runway where I was a model/muse for Mr. Karl Lagerfeld who sadly passed away just over a month ago.

Later in my career, when I was hired under contract as a muse at YSL, I made a similar trek only on the way home I would return on the bus instead, traveling along the left bank of the River Seine, and then exit at Notre Dame. Rushing

W Magazine for YSL

home from a long day standing in my stiletto heels, I remember feeling a sense of awe looking up and inside that great cathedral as I skipped carefully over the cobblestones. We had nothing like that at home, so it never ceased to amaze me. The gargoyles really made me laugh as I imagined what they represented…the French told us that they were put there to ward off evil spirits. But in fact, those grotesque looking animals with long throats functioned as rain gutters. No matter what, whenever I had a visitor or wanted to take an evening stroll…Notre Dame was the first place we’d go. So, this catastrophic news for me was gut wrenching.


Last month when I heard the news that Karl Lagerfeld had passed away ever so quietly with all his ducks in a row…leaving much of his millions to his kitty cat Choupette, I was saddened. Sorry to see one of my favorite mentors, bosses, teachers, pass on. Still, I knew he was an extraordinary man whose time had come to leave the physical world reality and return to that invisible place that no one can see. I was able to accept this loss, knowing he was at peace and out of pain. But this building – this structure that has been a part of our physical world for 850 years – has survived wars, heretics and evil spirits even gargoyles could not divert… well, I found that hard to accept. And then – I read the headlines…

Notre Dame Receives Millions of Dollars in Donations From France’s Fashion Billionaires

All I could say was, Hala- freakin’-lujah! Fashionistas save the day!

The very next day French President Emmanuel Macron promised to rebuild Notre Dame, saying,  “I will call upon the greatest talents of France to save the landmark.” It would appear that the most powerful billionaires in the fashion industry saw this as an opening to save a piece of French cultural history by pledging to donate millions of dollars to assist with the reconstruction of the cathedral.

As the CEO of Kering, the luxury goods conglomerate that owns Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and Gucci, François-Henri Pinault, (also known as Salma Hayek’s  husband,) offered $113 million to help rebuild Notre Dame. Pinault released a statement saying, “The Notre-Dame tragedy strikes all French people, as well as all those with spiritual values and those who care about history and culture. Faced with this tragedy, my father [François Pinault] and I have decided to contribute to the funds needed to fully rebuild Notre Dame de Paris, in order to bring this jewel of our heritage back to life as soon as possible,” he said.

And the flood gates of Fashion’s deep pocket donors flew open. Pinault’s multimillion-euro donation was then joined by the LVMH chairman, Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault, who pledged $226 million to assist with rebuilding the cathedral. LVMH—the largest luxury goods conglomerate in the world—pledged to support the reconstruction of “an integral part of the history of France.”

The LVMH Group is offering the city’s authorities all its teams—including creative, architectural, and financial specialists—to help with the long work of reconstructing and fund-raising, which is already in progress.

L’Oreal, a French company and the world’s biggest cosmetics brand, has also promised $226 million along with the Bettencourt Meyers family, its largest shareholders, and the charitable Bettencourt Schueller foundation which supports medial, cultural and humanitarian projects. Liliane Bettencourt was a French heiress, socialite, and business woman, who was one of the principle shareholders of L’Oreal. This totals more than half a billion dollars from the who’s who of the country’s fashion and beauty sphere already.

Notre Dame de Paris

I am sharing these details with you in hopes that you realize that you too have played an important role in the rebuilding of Notre Dame. Every penny you spent, each time you purchased a bottle of shampoo, hair color, a pair of shoes, jewelry, sheets, towels, linens, perfumes, cologne, or other from the Kering Group Brands: YSL, Gucci, Botega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Boucheron and more. Or, you bought something from the LVMH luxury line of fashion brands: Louis Vuitton, Celine, Dior, Kenzo, Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Pucci to name a few. Or their subsidiaries like; Sephora, DKNY, TAG Heuer, Fendi, Belmond, Givenchy, Guerlain, Fenti Beauty by Rihanna, Make Up Forever, and many others, YOU added to the pot of gold that will rebuild this great cathedral. And even if you are not a fashionista and your idea of a life of luxury is sipping, Moet Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Hennessy, Krug, or Mercier…(the list goes on)- you have contributed to the restoration of one of the world’s greatest treasures.


Monday I was saddened to see the raging fire at Notre Dame. Today, I am gladdened by the news that those luxury magnates came to the fore to help save one of the gems in the crown of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, using the dollars and euros that we have collectively spent on beauty and luxury. I feel blessed to be apart of this world again. Paris, city of fashion, city of lights, must never burn out or even fade away.

Notre Dame de Paris video

On this Easter Sunday we will hold and pray for another resurrection in our hearts.

Je ne regrette rien.

Bless and Thank you all for adding to the sum of beauty in the world.

You see, fashion isn’t frivolous at all.

This is how you Bring Your Style to Life!

Lorelei Shellist

Designer of the Runway Runaway Collection® ~ The Dream Dress®




About Lorelei

Lorelei Shellist brings new meaning to the definition of "super model." Drawing from her own experiences as a runaway teen who followed her dream to travel the world and become an international couture model. Lorelei's delightful wit and sense of humor (as well as her "perfect fit" measurements) enabled her to serve as a graceful and spirited muse for top designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Yves St. Laurent, Christian LaCroix, Bob Mackie, Geoffrey Beene and Giorgio Armani. Lorelei writes candidly and boldly about life as a runaway, model, and her struggles with her fiancé’s addiction titled, "Runway RunAway A Backstage Pass to Fashion, Romance & Rock 'N Roll." Her life experiences have enabled her to pursue her passion to inspire others with her story of survival and success. Her intrinsic connection with others has led Lorelei towards counseling Women in Prison and At-Risk Teens, teaching critical “Life Skills.” As a fashion expert, Lorelei encourages women to attract appropriate attention though Conscious Dressing while having fun expressing themselves with what they wear. A graduate of the Masters Program in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica, her appeal crosses many demographics and is particularly appealing to the baby boomer generation who have grown up inundated with confusing and contradictory mass media messages.

One Comment

  1. Lovely words…I was always hoping to visit paris some day….hopefully, I will still! <3

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