JANET STREET-PORTER: French fashion emperors must use their money for people who need it

The devastating eruption that has devastated much of Notre Dame Cathedral takes Paris away from one of the most iconic buildings, visited by more than 13 million people a year.

When the elegant spire collapsed and fell to the ground in flames, spectators prayed and wept.

President Macron described the outburst as & # 39; a terrible tragedy & # 39 ;, adding that he & & # 39; was so sad tonight to see that this part of us all burned & & # 39;

He immediately launched an international fund to raise money for the reconstruction of the building, which dates back to 1160.

The devastating eruption that has demolished much of Notre Dame Cathedral takes Paris away from one of the most iconic buildings visited by more than 13 million people a year

The devastating eruption that has demolished much of Notre Dame Cathedral takes Paris away from one of the most iconic buildings visited by more than 13 million people a year

Experts think it would cost more than 550 million euros (£ 475,574) and cost between 15 and 20 years.

From the moment the call for cash went out, the richest people in the world stood in line to publicly flash their money in a vulgar show of willy-waving.

The first billionaire of the blocks was Francois-Henri Pinault, the boss of the luxury fashion conglomerate Kering.

Married to actress Salma Hayak, Pinault recently announced that he streamlined the company to focus exclusively on & # 39; sustainable luxury & # 39; to target.

I'm not sure how sandals and bags with thousands of euros are environmentally friendly, but that's his pitch.

The Kering brands include Gucci (easily the most popular retailer at the moment), Balenciaga, McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta.

Francois-Henri Pinault, married to actress Salma Hayak (shown together in 2015), was the first to make a donation for the rebuilding of the cathedral

Francois-Henri Pinault, married to actress Salma Hayak (shown together in 2015), was the first to make a donation for the rebuilding of the cathedral

Francois-Henri Pinault, married to actress Salma Hayak (shown together in 2015), was the first to make a donation for the rebuilding of the cathedral

Turnover has recently fallen by 50 percent, but profits have risen by 40 percent because the luxury market shows no sign of cooling.

Since his marriage to Salma, the company has launched campaigns to promote women's rights and gender issues in the film industry.

Salma always wears a dress from one of her husband's designers when she is sitting on the red carpet. Nice to have that choice!

Mr. Pinault (valued at £ 19 billion) and his father Francois (valued at £ 23 billion) made an offer of 100 million euros (£ 86 million) with & # 39; optional & # 39; to the rebuilding fund, and the company name was quickly trending on social media.

Unbeatable, his deadly rival Bernard Arnault, whose 90 billion fortune makes him the richest man in France and probably the whole of Europe – made an astounding donation of 200 million euros (£ 172 million) – exactly double that!

Monsieur Arnault's LVMH empire includes fashion, fine wines and champagne, and luxury leather goods.

He owns Celine, Kenzo, Pucci, Loro Piana cashmere, Louis Vuitton, Guerlain, Fendi, Givenchy and Loewe, plus most of the best champagne houses, from Krug to Veuve Clicquot and Dom Perignon.

It is a bit dirty to discover that 90 percent of all the most expensive dresses in the world are produced by companies owned by only two men, and the rivalry between them is intense.

Not to be left behind, his deadly rival Bernard Arnault (pictured with his wife Hélène in 2014), whose 90 billion fortune makes him the richest man in France and probably the whole of Europe - an astounding donation of 200 million euros (£ 172 million) ) - exactly double!

Not to be left behind, his deadly rival Bernard Arnault (pictured with his wife Hélène in 2014), whose 90 billion fortune makes him the richest man in France and probably the whole of Europe - an astounding donation of 200 million euros (£ 172 million) ) - exactly double!

Not to be left behind, his deadly rival Bernard Arnault (pictured with his wife Hélène in 2014), whose 90 billion fortune makes him the richest man in France and probably the whole of Europe – an astounding donation of 200 million euros (£ 172 million) ) – exactly double!

Another rapid donor to the Notre Dame fund was the Bettencourt family (photo Jean-Pierre Meyers and his wife Francoise Bettencourt Meyers), who own part of L & # 39; Oréal - they have 200 million euros (£ 172 million)

Another rapid donor to the Notre Dame fund was the Bettencourt family (photo Jean-Pierre Meyers and his wife Francoise Bettencourt Meyers), who own part of L & # 39; Oréal - they have 200 million euros (£ 172 million)

Mark (pictured with his wife Melissa) and Oliver Bouygues, who own construction, media and telecom companies, have donated 10 million euros

Mark (pictured with his wife Melissa) and Oliver Bouygues, who own construction, media and telecom companies, have donated 10 million euros

Another rapid donor to the Notre Dame fund was the Bettencourt family (left Jean-Pierre Meyers and his wife Francoise Bettencourt Meyers), who own part of L & # 39; Oréal – they have 200 million euros (£ 172 million). Mark (pictured on the right with his wife Melissa) and Oliver Bouygues, who own construction, media and telecom companies, have donated 10 million euros

Both men describe themselves as & # 39; art collectors & # 39 ;, with private collections worth billions of dollars.

Art is always a good way to polish your social credibility and look intellectual.

Building museums and galleries is even better than sponsoring exhibitions, because you have total control over the project and it is permanent.

Arnault has one of the most famous architects in the world, Frank Gehry, to design his museum in Paris.

Pinault rebuilds a historic building in the center of Paris, the Stock Exchange, once the Stock Exchange, with a Japanese architect and more than 115 million euros (£ 99 million).

Both men will have their own monuments and with the rebuilding of Notre Dame a chance to get their names and brands linked to a piece of history, a heritage site that is known all over the world.

Another rapid donor to the Notre Dame fund was the Bettencourt family, who owned part of L & O 39 – they raised 200 million euros (£ 172 million).

A few years ago, Liliane Bettencourt, the richest woman in the world at the time, caused a huge scandal by awarding 1.4 billion euros to a man described as a gigolo – she would deny her deafness and dementia.

She gave him paintings, money and even an island in the Seychelles. The family managed to get him convicted and a part of the money back.

She was also accused of handing out money to government ministers for favorable tax breaks and illegally financing the Sarkozy presidential campaign, as well as illegally handing out billions of euros in Switzerland.

Liliane died in 2017 at the age of 94, and the family tried to get rid of their colorful past.

Mark and Oliver Bouygues, owners of construction, media and telecom companies, have donated 10 million euros (more than £ 8 million) to the rebuilding of Notre Dame – their companies are helping to build the Pinault Museum – maybe they hope to be involved in this project and with a quick gift their names are in the news.

The fund has already reached more than 600 million euros (£ 500 million) within 24 hours of launch. But why the rush to completely rebuild the cathedral?

The building evolved over many centuries, with constant renovations and additions.

At the time of the fire, experts had already said the cathedral was in poor condition and needed 150 million euros (about £ 130 million) to repair since 1991.

Now Macron has washed away a huge fund of a handful of billionaires. The city of Paris contributes 50 million euros (£ 43 million) and the regional government another 10 million (more than £ 8 million).

Flames swallowed the roof of Notre Dame cathedral with the steeple collapsing not long after the fire started

Flames swallowed the roof of Notre Dame cathedral with the steeple collapsing not long after the fire started

Flames swallowed the roof of Notre Dame cathedral with the steeple collapsing not long after the fire started

Charred damage was seen in Notre Dame Cathedral after the huge fire destroyed the roof and the wooden interior

Charred damage was seen in Notre Dame Cathedral after the huge fire destroyed the roof and the wooden interior

Charred damage was seen in Notre Dame Cathedral after the huge fire destroyed the roof and the wooden interior

Let's face the reality – a building that is more than 700 years old will always fall down and need a bottomless pit to stay safe.

Notre Dame can be visited by millions of gawking tourists, but the number of people going to church is falling rapidly.

In the United Kingdom, churches are empty and unused. In the US, people under 40 are four times more likely than ever to say they have no religion than forty years ago.

In every major city in the world, cathedrals are full of tourists shuffling through and photographing everything in sight. They are hardly respectful spaces for silent contemplation, but have turned into flashy tourist attractions with guides and souvenirs.

The burnt-out building must be left behind as a poignant reminder of its former glory days. A reminder that man-made structures are temporary, but true beliefs transcend the environment.

After the war, cathedrals were bombed, some were restored, but others were abandoned as reminders of man's cruelty to man.

The money that flows into Notre Dame could be better used to solve the serious social problems that divide France – starting with the crime-stricken suburbs just a stone's throw from the cathedral in the north of the city.

Here, violent gangs check drugs and guns, and the police are reluctant to patrol.

Immigrants and the poorest families were dumped in soulless tower blocks and no facilities – the result was a catastrophe.

The social divisions in France are worse than in the UK or the US – witness the recent riots on the Champs Elysee with looting, extreme violence and vandalism of shops and businesses by protesters who feel excluded from society.

Instead of offering millions to the less fortunate, Pinault, Arnault, Bettencourt and the Bouygues brothers prefer the name of religion.

They must remember that Jesus threw the money lenders out of the temple – I very much doubt that He would approve this money that comes from unnecessary luxury goods issued in His name.

After all, Jesus was happy to wear rags, not couture or Fendi sandals. And he turned water into daily wine – not Dom Perignon.