Michael Jackson remembered: Paris mourns the King of Pop
Parisians within earshot of a BlackBerry or a cellphone began to hear the first tremulous rumors of Michael Jackson's passing at about 10:30 local time Thursday night, and by midnight the news had started to spread in earnest: The King of Pop was dead.
On Friday morning, the news was splashed across the front pages: “Michael Jackson: la mort d’une icone planetaire” (Michael Jackson: the death of a planetary icon) proclaimed Le Monde. The front page of Le Figaro simply read: “La Mort de Michael Jackson” (The Death of Michael Jackson). A newspaper vendor near the Odeon Metro station said he had sold many more of both papers than usual, and his supply of Le Figaro was sold out.
Radio stations were playing wall-to-wall Michael Jackson music. The announcer on France Inter peppered her discussion with English terms (“Peter Pan” was just one). Friday didn’t appear to bring any mass outpouring of grief among residents or the assorted members of the media and buyers from around the world attending the men’s spring/summer 2010 runway collections, some found ways to continue with the task at hand while paying homage to the Gloved One.
The first noticeable homage to Jackson came at the Commes des Garcons Homme Plus show. As one of the models reached the end of the runway, he pushed back his left jacket sleeve to reveal the words “R.I.P. SMOOTH CRIMINAL” for the cameras, a reference to the title of one of Jackson’s most popular tunes. At Givenchy's later that evening, among the pieces Riccardo Tisci sent down the runway was a sleeveless, gold metallic shirt embellished with large military-style stars, reportedly created by the designer as one of Jackson’s costumes for the planned upcoming series of concerts.
But the most touching moment came at the end of Friday’s Galliano’s show -- an homage to Napoleon Bonaparte that took place in am abandoned, graffiti-covered swimming pool and former homeless flop house on the edge of Paris. As the models did their final walk, the soundtrack eased into a pastiche of Michael Jackson clips before blaring “PYT" (Pretty Young Thing) and the crowd took to their feet, clapped their hands and roared in approval.
“The king is dead,” they seemed to be saying. “Long live the king.”
-- Adam Tschorn