Address by Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, on the occasion of the presentation of the Commissioner’s insignia in the Order of Arts and Letters to Yohji Yamamoto, and of Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters to Jean-Pierre Blanc

Dear Yohji Yamamoto,
Against the current of an ultra-feminine design with curves
highlighted as in eyeliner, the models of the Yamamoto brand wear
clothing derived from the male wardrobe where the modesty of
feelings can be touched through the open frames of forms
asymmetrical, vaporous or puffy.

Priority to living matter, outfits that breathe and leave the heart
with personal clothes that reflect a way of life and
work, a way to carry your life on your back, between disclosure and
mystery. It is a great joy for me to pay tribute
today to a creator of today’s most influential, to the one who creates
as your daughter says, “for a woman of dreams who doesn’t exist”.

Your mother, a seamstress, saw you in a big company, or big
lawyer; you dreamed of painting. An ambition you renounce, and
despite your dislike for the steam smell of the iron and the
noises from sewing machines, it is towards the seam that you are heading.
At Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, your talents are noticed: your
award-winning work allows you to get a scholarship in Paris, where
you learn the trade of stylist in Lelong workshops, just like
Christian Dior in his time. Back in Japan, you dress the customers
of your mother, before launching, at just 28, your own claw. One year
later a women’s line was created, and in 1979, Yohji Yamamoto created
for men. Even in the names of your lines is found the spirit
your approach: sobriety, efficiency and minimalism. Your first
show in 1977 in Tokyo already reveals what will make your success on the
French and American podiums: geometric monochromes, volumes
dissymmetric, black, white or blood red variations, superpositions
of thicknesses, fishermen’s or railwaymen’s sketches, sensualities of
clean cuts.

Today Yohji Yamamoto is a recognized brand in the world
and the Yohji Yamamoto+NOIR line, among others, sank
a lot of ink. During your shock parades - some shout at
scandal, others to genius - the young generations of creators of
1980s find in your style the expression of a lifestyle and
the creative ideal they aspire to. Your first Aoyama store
Superposition was born in 1985 in Japan before being followed by
others, including a Cambon street, close to the Chanel shop,
A creator you admire and whose rebellious spirit you share.

The influence of your brand then extends to the worlds of the show and on
cinema, sports clothing, luggage storage. Your collaborations
You sign the costumes of Pina Bausch’s company in
1985; Wim Wenders asks you to make the red dress worn
by Solveig Dommartin at the end of the Wings of Desire, this dress "where the woman
is no longer vamp or warrior"; you also dress the characters of
Takeshi Kitano in Dolls and Aniki my brother. Creating anti-fashion by the
mode, you are using the Y-3 line in partnership with the
brand Adidas, or revisiting five years ago the favorite shoe of the
English punk movement, Doc Martens.

The history of fashion museography can be seen a few years ago
turned upside down by three Yamamoto exhibitions, one in Florence, one in Paris -
«Just clothes» - and «Dream Shop» in Antwerp, with, the material
at the center of your scenographies. Exit the classic retrospectives and their
distant, mute and inert clothing: touch and try are now
In London, the Victoria & Albert recently dedicated a
retrospective where your creations interact with the collections of the
prestigious museum.

Like a lipstick a little too bright on a young woman’s mouth
shy, your wardrobe reveals the modest expression of what we would like
keep secret. With you, “fashion remains a variation on loneliness.”

By blurring gender differences, at the opposite ends of a
elegance frilly for people in rows, you managed to draw the
time.

Dear Yohji Yamamoto, on behalf of the French Republic, we
Commander’s insignia in the order of the Arts and
Letters.

Dear Jean-Pierre BLANC,
«Time devours chic faster than faces», said Marie-Laure de
Noailles. An adage that you deny since you created there
more than 25 years now, in the Var of your childhood, in Hyères, the
International Festival of Fashion and Photography, first called Salon
young designers. It is in the framework of the villa Noailles, which
served as the backdrop to the Mysteries of Man Ray’s Castle, which you
install this event for which you will have done almost everything:
dressed the mannequins, laid the carpet, drove the minibuses. The «little
interesting house to live in», built in 1924 on the initial project of
Mallet-Stevens led by Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, is
from its origins a point of confluence of all modernity
for 50 years, the Noailles welcomed the greatest artists,
from André Gide and Jean Cocteau to Dali, Giacometti, Sonia Delaunay or Luis
Buñuel.

When you take over the premises, bought in 1973 by the municipality to a
when Mallet-Stevens was well forgotten, everything has to be redone. Like a
stage deserted by its actors, the villa Noailles is no longer
as the shadow of itself. Thanks to its inscription in monuments
and its restoration, the villa was able to recover its architecture
manifest and become, through your Festival, the place of experimentation and
avant-garde that he had been.
In 1997, the festival opened a window to photography. Every year
since then, it has allowed us to discover ten fashion designers and
photographers selected by a prestigious jury. This ball of materials and
images is particularly open to the harvest of young creators
which often get their first real recognition.

Many Parisian shows of confirmed talents can count on
battalions of talents who have all passed through Hyères: Felipe Oliveira
Baptista, Richard René, Romain Kremer, Gaspard Yurkievich, David Gil,
Tuomas and Anna Lattinen, Wendy & Jim, Viktor & Rolf, Sébastien Meunier,
Stéphanie Coudert…

Villa Noailles, springboard villa for all artistic spheres. In 1995,
you create the Children’s Festival, with its exhibitions, workshops and
films for children the week before Christmas. In 1999, you
you launch for three years with Armand Tomassian in the adventure of
Aquaplaning electronic music festival. In 2006, it’s the Design
Parade that you inaugurate, on the same principle as the Festival
international fashion and photography. At the crossroads of all these
events, a single ambition: connecting the different
forms of artistic expression, young creators and professionals,
with the support of many volunteers, patrons and all
major players in the sector who participate in juries, or
international fashion and textile meetings under the leadership of
Didier Grumbach, president of the French Couture Federation,
also chairman of the villa’s board of directors. It is through these
places that France remains a place of creation, to the influence
international.

This tribute cannot be complete without mentioning your public activity
dedicated to the artistic promotion. For the city of Hyères, you manage
the Office d'Action Culturelle from 1990 to 1995, before being responsible for it
for the programming of exhibitions, animations and action
for the young public, in parallel with the renovation of the villa, and
the organization of its exhibitions and artist residencies.

Since 2003, it is in the direction of the villa that you dedicate yourself
This exceptional art centre, at the service of the architecture, the
fashion, design and photography, could soon be enriched by a
international centre for research and creation, also dedicated to
prototypes, emerging talent, so-called “emergence”.

Bringing creators together, capturing trends, reviving a place where
heritage and avant-garde are synonymous: a triple challenge you have
with exceptional talent, contributing in a way that
of contemporary creation, in the fields of
from fashion, photography and design an open image,
accessible, far from its reputation in the exclusive, in other words
taken with his time.

For all its reasons, dear Jean-Pierre Blanc, on behalf of the Republic
French, we make you an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters.