French culture minister Rima Abdul Malak toured Sphere on Tuesday, meeting a diverse group of designers at the noted fashion incubator, where she revealed plans to support multiple design projects via France 2030, with a €48 million budget.
Abdul Malak’s tour marked the first time a culture minister had visited Sphere, a cool salon featuring French and international designers held ever ready-to-wear season – for men or women – in Paris.
A special project of the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM), French high fashion’s governing body, Sphere has in recent years been staged inside the Palais de Tokyo, a large experimental art exhibition space on the banks of the Seine.
“It’s vital to pay attention to what the young generation is proposing. I’ve always admired what the Federation has been doing, like its support for the transition to the circular economy, upcycling and recycling. And its support for the liberty of creation, which is what France represents. So, to be here with designers from all over the world is very important,” explained Abdul Malak.
Praising young designer for adressing questions concerning ecology and gender boundaries, the minister was taken on a guided tour of Sphere by Pascal Morand, executive president of the FHCM. This season, Sphere is presenting eight designers, who each get to stage intimate shows within the salon. They are Arturo Obegero, Christian Rumpf, Ponder.er, Jeanne Friot, LGN Louis-Gabriel Nouchi, Steven Passaro, Uniforme and Valette Studio.
A key role of the Culture Minister is supporting public art spaces, especially where fashion can interact with cinema, dance, fine art and music. “Which is why Sphere being held inside the Palais de Tokyo is so important,” the minister added.
Before then revealing a new investment plan named France 2030, “to structure and support fashion and métiers d’art in Paris and throughout France.”
The ministry has already launched an appeal to brands to express their desire to create relevant projects, with €48 million spread over the next eight years in métiers d’art, design or fashion, or a blend of all three. A separate project Alternative Verte, with a €25 million budget, will help finance ideas in the eco-responsible new economy.
Commented Morand: “We greatly appreciated this sign of support, conviction and energy by the minister in coming here today. And above all the commitment by the government to help not just grand groups, but also young emerging talent.”
Under President Emanuel Macron, the government has taken a far more activist role supporting fashion and luxury. Previous French governments had tended to keep fashion at a distance, as a symbol of frivolity and self-indulgence. Macron has even hosted scores of designers, fashion house CEOs and front-row editors at two glittering dinners inside the Elysees Palace.
“Emanuel Marcon has been supporting fashion even before he became president when he was economy minister. Why? Because he realized what a huge economic force fashion is, first of all. It’s a source of exports, employment and imagination, since fashion creates magic. And I found the fashion dinners extraordinary events, bringing together great artists from fashion in one of the great symbols of our republic, the Elysees Palace” she opined.
Of Lebanese French origin, one of Abdul Malak’s cousins, Georges Hobeika will stage a couture show next week in Paris.
Asked, who were her favorite designers, she demurred: “As a minister I cannot speak about who are my favorite designers, as you see I dress quite somberly.”
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