Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris is getting a modern makeover for its reopening in December, with designer furniture and colourful priestly vestments created by a top fashion designer. The 860-year-old cathedral has been undergoing a rapid reconstruction since being ravaged by fire in 2019. It is on track to reopen on December 8, and with less than six months to go, fire-blackened rubble has given way to gleaming stone.

Notre-Dame Cathedral prepares for grand reopening with modern makeover(Pixabay)

Archbishop of Paris Laurent Ulrich said he wanted to “welcome the whole world” as he revealed details of the new interior designs. Priests, archbishops, bishops and deacons will wear vestments created by aristocratic French designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac — known to his celebrity pals as “JC/DC” — the man who came up with Madonna’s famous coat made of teddy bears.

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The 74-year-old was inspired by the immense gold cross in the cathedral’s choir, which was spared by the flames. His priestly outfits feature geometric patterns with sharp lines and primary colours reminiscent of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. New massive bronze furniture — highly stylised and bringing to mind something from “Game of Thrones” — is being produced in southern France and should be installed in November, including a new baptismal font, altar and tabernacle.

Some 1,500 to 2,000 simple but comfortable chairs in light oak have been ordered for the faithful. The painted decorations of the chapels, seen in part by AFP, have regained their vibrant colours and should match seven new tapestries and six new stained glass windows to be installed after the reopening. Contemporary artists including Daniel Buren, Herve Di Rosa and Chinese-born Yan Pei-Ming are among the 110 competing to create the windows.

‘Spiritual experience’

Future visitors, which the diocese says will number 15 million a year — up from 12 million before the fire — will find the church a “strong cultural and spiritual experience”, said rector Olivier Ribadeau Dumas. Most key parts of the rebuilding have been completed, including the famous spire, all the wooden frames, the golden crosses and the cathedral’s rooster weather-vane.

State-of-the-art fire protection systems are due to be installed over the next few months, along with the eight restored bells for the north tower. The new great organ is also almost complete, the diocese said. Reservations to visit the cathedral — free of charge — will open a week before the December 8 reopening, favouring individuals over groups for the first six months.

The diocese said Notre-Dame will be able to accommodate 2,500 people at once and 40,000 per day. That is double the number at the Palace of Versailles, which is 10 times bigger, and 10,000 more per day than the vast Louvre museum in Paris, the diocese said.