PARIS — France is showing its support for fashion’s emerging talent. Minister of culture Rima Abdul Malak got a sneak preview of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode’s Sphere showroom Tuesday, ahead of its official Wednesday opening.
After touring the stands of the eight designers present, she highlighted their diversity and drive for a more sustainable approach to fashion as standing out, pinpointing Uniforme designers Hugues Fauchard and Rémi Bats’ choice to move out of Paris to be closer to their production near Nantes, in Brittany, and buzzy young designer Jeanne Friot’s use of upcycled Levi’s in her collection.
“We can see all the new stakes they are working on, with their tone, their creative freedom, whether it’s on recycling or breaking barriers between masculine and feminine, catering to everyone,” she said.
Reinvigorating creative industries, including fashion, is high on Abdul Malak’s agenda since she was named minister of culture last year.
Among upcoming initiatives is a call for projects under the France 2030 investment plan, through which 48 million euros will be injected into projects supporting the art, design and fashion professions to help reinvigorate France’s regions over a five-year period. The initiative is in consultation stages and will be officially opened over the summer, she said.
“There’s a lot of criticism of luxury, that it’s too expensive, etc. But what we’re talking about here is manufacturing. These companies manufacture in France, they are creating jobs in France. I was just talking to a designer who doesn’t use any plastic, no polluting materials, who works on revitalizing employment opportunities in small towns in France. That’s what fashion is: it’s jobs, it’s re-localization.”
While supporting creative industries outside the capital is a priority, Paris’ role as a fashion capital is also key. “Given the international status of Paris, being here and seeing emerging designers from all over the world that are accompanied by Sphere is very important,” said Abdul Malak.
The designers showing at Sphere this season are Arturo Obegero, Valette Studio, Christoph Rumpf, Ponder.er, Jeanne Friot, Steven Passaro, Uniforme and LGN Louis-Gabriel Nouchi. All except Ponder.er, from Hong Kong, are based in France, although the creative forces behind several of them hail from abroad.
“We mustn’t forget we’re a country of creative freedom, which isn’t the case in some countries where designers don’t have the possibility of freely expressing themselves,” said Abdul Malak, who spent her early years in Beirut. Georges Hobeika, showing on the couture schedule on Monday, is a distant cousin.
“I think that Paris is the world capital for creative freedom, and it always has been, artists have always come from all over the world for the creative freedom Paris offers. And the more we can defend and promote that, the stronger will be our ecosystem, with strong businesses and creative innovators,” she said.