By and  on June 19, 2007

In a small ceremony on Friday at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris, Naoki Takizawa was made a Chevalier in the French Order of Arts and Letters for creating four spectacular curtains that adorn the Jean Nouvel-designed museum for primitive arts.

"You are a magician of forms," said Stéphane Martin, the museum's president, as he pinned Takizawa with the merit prize.

"This is an enormous honor for me," said Takizawa. "It came as such a surprise." Takizawa made the curtains, which hang in the auditorium and temporary exhibition spaces, at Nouvel's request.

Established in 1957 by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, the award recognizes eminent artists and writers, as well as those who have contributed significantly to advancing the arts in France and throughout the world. Takizawa praised Nouvel for getting him involved with the project and his mentor Issey Miyake for providing him "with the greatest opportunities throughout my career, which ultimately brought me to this point."

For the past 26 years, Takizawa has worked at Issey Miyake Inc. — most recently as artistic director and designer. Last year he set up his own design studio under the company's umbrella.

In September, Takizawa will stage the first runway show for his signature collection at Bryant Park during New York Fashion Week. During an interview in Manhattan, where he was showing the spring-summer 2008 collection to retailers, Takizawa discussed why he wanted to start his own business after 26 years of working as artistic director and a designer for Issey Miyake.

"Now is the time for me to find out my own identity," he said. "I didn't want to make a line with an age range in mind. I wanted to try to appeal to them to buy a lifestyle."

The collection is centered on three principles — the Japanese color "ai" or indigo, functionality and the use of high-tech fabrics with organic details. Miu Miu, Chloé, Marni and Stella McCartney are among the labels with which the collection will compete, he said.

Takizawa has maintained an artistic streak throughout his career — designing costumes for the Frankfurt Ballet, collaborating with Takashi Murakami, participating in the "Yanomami, Spirit of the Forest" exhibition at the Cartier Foundation, publishing photography book "November" with Daido Moriyama, collaborating with Robert Clergerie for footwear and working with a yet-to-be-named Italian company for handbags. The renown graphic artist Kashiwa Sato has designed the branding and logos for Takizawa's signature collection.

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