Paris Pays Tribute to Brigitte Burke: A Heartfelt Farewell

Paris recently bid an emotional farewell to Brigitte Burke, bringing together a gathering of prominent designers, luxury CEOs, her husband Michael Burke, and their five sons at the Musée de l’Orangerie for a series of moving tributes.

In attendance were notable figures such as Bernard Arnault and Pharrell Williams, who joined the fashion and luxury industry in paying homage to Brigitte Burke, a beloved personality known for her warmth and grace in the often competitive world of fashion.

Brigitte Burke, the cherished wife of Michael Burke, a long-standing executive at LVMH, recently passed away in Florida after a courageous battle with cancer that she faced with remarkable grace.

“Brigitte was a radiant personality, extremely charming, and her partnership with Michael was extraordinary,” said Bernard Arnault. He fondly remembered Brigitte’s early days at his company as an intern student in the 1980s when they were opening luxury real estate projects in Florida. Arnault was amazed at how Brigitte, within just three days of arriving in Miami, had already organized a warm and elegant home.

“No wonder she was the only person I never heard Michael criticize,” added Arnault, drawing laughter from the audience. To which, Burke humorously replied: “I don’t ever recall criticizing you.”

Known as a fair but driven CEO, Burke held senior positions at Christian Dior, Bulgari, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton. During his remarkable decade as Vuitton CEO, he oversaw the fastest accumulation of revenues and profits ever recorded by a luxury brand.

Brigitte and Michael first met in the 1970s as teenagers and went on to attend university together in Lille. After marriage, the couple spent many years in the US, where Michael directed Dior and then Vuitton in North America. After LVMH acquired Fendi in 2013, Burke became its president and successfully revived the Roman brand.

Five sons stood together on the podium, each wearing bright orchids and flowers. The dress code was «an outfit in memory of Brigitte’s joyful spirit and sunny disposition.” In an emotional speech, their youngest son, 16-year-old Luca, revealed that Brigitte had lost a child at the end of a pregnancy, adding another layer of poignancy to the farewell.

“Brigitte created a beautiful home for the Burke family behind the Imperial Forum. They came to Rome with four kids and left with five,” recalled Silvia Venturi Fendi, who attended alongside designers Kim Jones, Jonathan Anderson, Camille Miceli, Johnny Coca, and Pharrell Williams.

“We know that Brigitte’s life generated a lot of love. So many people will remember the sound of her voice, the glory she brought with her very special children, the laughter she brought into the room whenever she had a conversation… Now, she is shining with the rest of the stars in the heavens… And we know this is true from the love reflected in this room. To some, she is a loss, but to heaven, she is a gain. Blessings,” said Pharrell.

Around 200 people gathered for the commemoration in front of Claude Monet’s large and beautiful Water Lilies. Friends from Miami remembered that in her final days, Brigitte remained positive and concerned for others. The memorial began with a touching rendition of «Bridge Over Troubled Water» by a pair of sopranos, and Burke concluded it with an emotional speech.

Reflecting on over 50 years together, the 66-year-old Burke shared that when they moved to Connecticut, Brigitte resumed skiing and even became a real estate agent, ultimately becoming the downhill champion of Connecticut.

“She was magnetic; her presence would light up any room. She exuded extraordinary resilience and made connections everywhere she lived,” said Burke, reminiscing about dinners with Virgil Abloh and Pharrell.

“We mustn’t attempt to fill the void of her absence or expect it to fade away. Brigitte abhorred dwelling on suffering and displayed incredible courage. She never complained. We have spent 50 years with Brigitte – a life full of intensity and incredible moments… You made it beautiful with countless thoughtful touches. This life we shared with you is more than well-lived. With our five sons now grown into men, it’s the most beautiful life. Thank you,” he concluded, sounding like a devoted husband and father grieving the loss of the love of his life and still deeply in awe of his departed partner.

Amor est vita essentia.

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