Lyne Cohen-Solal, Audrey Azoulay, Pierre-François le Louët, Pierre Aidenbaum à l'ouverture du 1er Forum de la Mode

Dear friends,

Dear Pierre Aidenbaum,

President of the Women’s Ready-to-Wear Federation

Dear Presidents,

Dear friends of fashion,

Dear Régine Hatchondo, Director General of Artistic Creation,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very happy to open this Fashion Forum. I am delighted with what is, I believe, a historic first that brings together the entire sector, two federations, several generations of fashion talent, major companies and emerging talent, to work together for the general interest of this sector, which is a track of excellence. Like all channels of excellence, it needs to come together to work on its future challenges, as well as to maintain this excellence. 

Before being an economic sector, fashion is an act of creation, and as such supported by the Ministry of Culture. This creative act has very high added value, with a creativity that is the best guarantee of success and sustainability in a world that, you know better than I, is very competitive.

It also has a fruitful dialogue with other arts—with architecture, with contemporary art, with film, with many other arts—and that feeds its creativity. Fashion unites in the reflection and the gaze of authors, creators, but also in gesture and matter. It is based on the diversity of talent, trades and know-how in the search for excellence. It also requires – and this will be one of today’s challenges – economic and financial expertise that is adapted to its specificities.

I would like to thank you all for the contribution of fashion to the influence of our country around the world: our creators, our big houses, our small houses, our talents from around the world who have chosen France and of which France is so proud. While the competition is so strong and will be even stronger tomorrow, Paris remains the world capital of fashion. We must celebrate that and not count our efforts, as we are doing today, to ensure that it remains so.

Fashion is also an integral part of our heritage. She has a long and beautiful story of which we are lucky that she was born in France. And as Loïc Prigent writes in his hilarious collection: “inspiration, basically, is the last six hundred years!”

On this subject, I launched a mission that was entrusted to Olivier Saillard, whose report I will receive in January and which will allow us, again, to have a collective reflection on the issues of fashion heritage.

It is worth recalling the sector’s major contribution to the economy and employment, with nearly one million jobs, 150 billion euros in turnover and 2.7% of French GDP – that is, the creation of national wealth.

Fashion is also a particularly innovative sector, in techniques, materials, manufacturing and distribution processes, with a capacity for innovation that advances it, but also that diffuses to the rest of the economy and more generally to the rest of society – so much fashion is in direct contact, through its exposure and its visibility, with society. I am pleased that today’s speakers include a new generation of talent.

Between art, crafts, industry, fashion is also the subject of the State Secretariat entrusted to Christophe Sirugue, who will speak at the end of this day on behalf of industry.

This fashion forum was one of the main recommendations of your report, dear Lyne Cohen-Solal. You identified the need for a strong time to bring together the actors and reshape the sector. That is what we are proposing today, and I hope that it will be a regular meeting.

I must say how enthusiastic you were at the announcement of this Forum. The number of registrations requested has been record high, and I apologize for those placed on the stairs or still waiting. This shows that there is a need to have this moment of collective exchange.

You will evoke the fashion arts, new business models, new modes of production, but also the new creative scene and the hot topic of accompanying and financing brands, when it comes to combining creative but fragile talent from the creator with business management. On this last point we know many weaknesses, but also brilliant successes.

I want to thank the Fédération française de la couture, the ready-to-wear, the fashion designers and designers, and the Fédération du prêt-à-porter féminin, who were together – and it is remarkable – the driving forces behind the organization of this first event.

I also want to thank DEFI for its support, and I also want to thank the teams of the Artistic Creation Directorate at the Ministry of Culture for their investment on the subject of fashion today, but especially tomorrow.

This Forum should make it possible to broadly and collectively embrace the issues facing the fashion industry. 

Alber Elbaz, to whom I recently had the pleasure of presenting the insignia of officer of the Legion of Honour, likes to say that fashion must combine a technique and a history. We can add training, the economy and the ecosystem. It is this combination of assets and dynamics that we need to value and grow today. I know I can count on your commitment.

We pay particular attention – and this is where the Ministry of Culture focuses its efforts – to young talents, their professionalization and their integration into this sector.

On this subject, I would like to mention the work of the Villa Noailles in Hyères - whose models and prototypes we welcomed last September in the salons of the Ministry of Culture. I take this opportunity to tell you the support of the State so that, in spite of the terrible fire that ravaged part of the castle Saint-Pierre prototyping workshop of the Villa Noailles, the next edition of the Festival can be held in the best conditions, and we will ensure that.

To support young talent, our efforts have focused on training. This is one of the major challenges for the future of the sector, highlighted as such by Lyne Cohen-Solal in her report.

On October 26th, the Ecole nationale de Modes et Matières opened its doors for a first year of foresight, thanks to the unique partnership between the Ecole nationale supérieure des Arts décoratifs, MINES ParisTech and the Université Paris-Dauphine. At the same time, the rapprochement between the French Fashion Institute, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and the school of the Chambre Syndicale to merge their formations into a large French fashion school shows the dynamism of France in terms of training and its ability to adapt - because here too, as we know, competition is very strong within Europe itself, which has excellent schools.

Beyond training, our support for young creators also includes support for the prestigious ANDAM award, but also support from IFCIC, which I salute, through loans and a repayable advance fund dedicated to young creators.

Youth, renewal, innovation are also one of the topics of this first edition of the Fashion Forum.

It is also with the desire to provide useful and concrete support to the young creation that the Directorate-General for Artistic Creation is thinking, at my request, of what could be an aid to the first fashion presentation for the very young creators, which could take place during the fashion weeks - for example next January. This is an idea that many of you have suggested to us. Now we have to see what you think. That can also be one of the issues in today’s discussions. It is also a question of how this aid could be complementary to the formidable Designers Apartment », the operation implemented by the French Couture Federation.

On this subject, which is particularly close to my heart, I would also like you to emphasize in your reflections this afternoon on the subject of financing and supporting creators in the early years when they are starting. Because we all know these young talents who, sometimes, crash on the subject of business management. Progress has been made. Support is now more professional. Investment funds are dedicated. Investors have specialized in this subject. You will tell us, I hope, what your proposals can be to continue to improve their support when they launch.

Now I have to let you work together - and I am delighted that it is together, convinced that these ties, forged or renewed, will make it possible to create very beautiful pieces. I will be very attentive to that. I know how important fashion is in its many dimensions, for France, for its influence. And I also know that in order to keep that lead, to keep that excellence, we have to work in the pipeline. Because there is always a general interest in the sector, which makes it possible to regain the interest of the various components and which will bring, I hope, a path of shared excellence for all.

I wish you a very good Forum, a good collective meeting and I hope that it will be the first of a long series.

Thanks to you!