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Le Figaro: Nicolas Hulot, l'écolo cathodique


Anne Fulda .

18.9.2006

Depuis qu'il a annoncé sa possible candidature à la présidentielle, le créateur d'«Ushuaïa» est très courtisé par les partis, mais ses proches ne pensent pas qu'il franchira le pas.

 

«ANGE EN A ASSEZ. Il veut sortir la Corse du marasme et a une idée. Il en parle à ses copains. «Et si on déclarait la guerre ? On la perd et comme ça, on a un plan Marshall.» Toute l'assistance approuve. Sauf Napo qui objecte : «Et si on gagne ?» Nicolas Hulot rigole. Il vient de raconter cette histoire, avec un accent corse plus ou moins convaincant, alors qu'on lui demandait s'il ne serait pas très ennuyé si, finalement, il devait vraiment se présenter à la présidentielle.

 

Une pirouette ? Certes, Hulot justifie l'annonce de sa possible candidature, décidée sur un coup de tête, au vu d'«une campagne qui s'annonçait tragiquement semblable aux autres», en parlant avant tout d'«une candidature d'alerte», manière de mettre les «vrais» candidats au pied du mur d'ici à novembre. Mais qui sait ? La pression, les sondages, l'inertie des politiques sur les problèmes environnementaux, et puis aussi, peut-être, l'enflure de l'ego qui n'épargne personne, y compris lui qui, selon un proche, «aime être adulé et ne supporte pas la moindre petite critique»...



 

En attendant de décider s'il se lance ou non dans la course présidentielle, le troisième personnage préféré des Français, selon les sondages, nimbé de sa mission quasi évangélique de «sauveur de la planète», est devenu la mascotte des politiques qui veulent se refaire une virginité environnementale. On l'a vu en octobre dernier à la convention de l'UMP consacrée à l'écologie, puis à la fin de l'été au PS, à l'UDF, à l'université des Verts et de Cap 21, le mouvement de Corinne Lepage. La mine empruntée qu'il affiche lorsque ses hôtes le tirent par la manche pour figurer avec lui sur la photographie, ne laisse pas place au doute. Hulot l'a bien compris : il a mis les pieds sur un terrain glissant. Inconnu et dangereux. L'inquiétude de ses proches – même si la plupart «ne croient pas qu'il ira» – ne peut que renforcer cette impression.

 

«Je ne voudrais pas qu'il prenne des claques»



 

Après avoir lu l'interview au Journal du Dimanche dans laquelle il évoque son éventuelle candidature, sa femme, Florence, s'est écriée : «Mais tu es complètement fou !» Evidemment, elle le soutiendra de toute façon, même si elle craint que ce possible changement d'orientation signe «la fin de la vie tranquille qu'ils avaient réussi à bâtir». L'un de ses plus vieux amis, Pierre Lenormand, dit «Petitchou», partage cette crainte : «Il est parti dans son trip. Je ne voudrais pas qu'il prenne des claques. Il joue le cacou, le dur, mais au fond c'est un sensible.»

 

Pour se préserver, cet angoissé perfectionniste, que la crainte d'un article défavorable peut empêcher de dormir, a dressé des herses autour de lui. Il cloisonne vies privée et publique, pour éviter d'être manipulé, récupéré, sa hantise, lui qui se dit fier de n'être catalogué ni à droite ni à gauche. Et qui s'est agacé, même s'il ne renie en rien son amitié avec le président de la République, d'être un temps systématiquement présenté comme la caution verte de Chirac. À force d'entretiens en tête à tête avec le chef de l'État, de coups de fil et de notes alarmistes, Hulot est en effet parvenu à faire prendre conscience au président des dangers du réchauffement climatique. Il a été l'inspirateur de son virage vert, en mai 2001 – «exigence rime désormais avec urgence, il y a péril en la demeure» – et l'a même conduit à intervenir en Conseil des ministres pour déplorer la disparition de l'ours Canelle, «une grande perte pour la biodiversité»... S'il juge le bilan chiraquien «largement insuffisant», il lui est cependant reconnaissant d'avoir «décloisonné son camp, ouvert les esprits et beaucoup oeuvré sur le plan diplomatique pour la ratification du traité de Kyoto par la Russie».



 

Drôle de zozo, ce Hulot. Idéaliste et pragmatique. Cassandre et bon vivant. Aussi à l'aise avec le chef de l'État, qu'il tutoie, qu'avec ses vieux copains, un ancien équipier de Tabarly un brin marginal, un médecin, un architecte et un ex-pilote de chasse. Avec des représentants du show-bizz qu'avec des grands patrons ou des scientifiques, avec Mgr Barbarin, le primat des Gaules, ou les représentants de la FNSEA. Une seule personnalité l'a désarçonné : Nelson Mandela. La rencontre avait été arrangée par Chirac : «J'en ai perdu mes moyens, j'étais au bord des larmes», frissonne encore l'admirateur d'Hugo et de Théodore Monod.

 

Évidemment, avec de tels atouts, d'aucuns lui cherchent des poux. Hulot n'est pas René Dumont. C'est un enfant de la télévision. L'une des stars de TF1. Et il ne le renie en rien : «J'ai la chance d'avoir été à l'abri du besoin, j'assume», dit-il en précisant que tous les produits dérivés Ushuaïa (cosmétiques, montres, etc.) sont commercialisés par une filiale de TF1. «Quand quelque chose est incompatible avec mes idées, j'interviens : par exemple, j'ai fait enlever des publicités pour des 4 x 4 dans le journal Ushuaïa Magazine». Hulot, qui touche 30 000 euros mensuels de la chaîne privée, perçoit également des droits d'auteur mais ne veut pas en donner le montant : «Je le ferai si je suis candidat.»



 

Quant aux puristes qui lui reprochent de financer sa fondation avec les dons d'entreprises pas toujours écologiquement correctes, il rétorque qu'il préfère l'argent privé à l'argent public et précise qu'il part du principe «que l'on peut faire évoluer les entreprises de l'intérieur». La preuve : il a été invité à parler de développement durable devant les cadres du groupe Bouygues.

 

Il n'est pas végétarien mais tente de manger bio



 

Assurément l'homme n'est pas du genre intégriste. Même si celui que l'on a longtemps surnommé le «commandant couche-tôt» ne va jamais au lit après 22 heures, il aime s'amuser. Et vivre avec son temps. Le retour aux lampes à huile, très peu pour lui. Élevé «à l'école de la consommation et du matérialisme à tous crins», Hulot le reconnaît : il n'est pas toujours exemplaire. Mais il fait des efforts. Il évite, assure-t-il, de prendre l'avion ou la voiture s'il le peut. Lui qui déteste la ville et habite en Bretagne du Nord quand il n'est pas en reportage récupère les eaux de pluie, trie ses déchets, circule à vélo électrique à Paris, a changé l'imprimante pour qu'elle fasse des copies recto verso et dispute les enfants quand ils prennent de trop grands bains... Il n'est pas végétarien mais tente de manger bio, sachant que c'est un luxe, et ne se refuse pas un verre de vin de temps en temps.

 

Son grand-père a inspiré Jacques Tati



 

Hulot a en tout cas réussi à convaincre de sa sincérité. Et à force de travail et de conférences «sans caméras» dans des universités, des lycées, des congrégations religieuses, à l'Assemblée nationale, à l'Ecole de la magistrature, il a acquis une légitimité. L'enfant gâté de la télévision, l'aventurier un peu roublard, s'est transformé en vigie écolo. Et a décidé de se faire le porte-parole des experts (notamment ceux qui composent le Comité de veille écologique de la Fondation Nicolas Hulot) et des ONG qui, depuis des années, tirent la sonnette d'alarme sans écho médiatique.

 

Ce combat pour la sauvegarde de la planète est devenu «obsessionnel», se souvient l'écrivain Denis Tillinac, qui était à ses côtés dans l'avion pour le sommet de Johannesburg : «Il nous a mis la tête au carré avec ses histoires d'écologie.» Hulot l'admet : il n'est pas loin d'être «habité». Et s'il assure ne s'identifier à aucune religion, il pense que «Dieu est dans tout. Quand on a la chance de pouvoir regarder une baleine dans l'oeil, il y a quelque chose de divin.»



 

D'où lui vient cette mission qu'il s'est fixée ? A priori, rien ne le prédisposait à un tel engagement. Hulot n'est pas né écolo, il l'est devenu. Le petit Nicolas a grandi dans un milieu bourgeois apparemment conventionnel. Certes, son grand-père, architecte, a inspiré au cinéaste Jacques Tati son célèbre héros, M. Hulot. Mais, pour le reste, tout semble d'un classicisme parfait. Nicolas file une enfance «indolente jusqu'à ce que tout s'écroule».

 

Scolarité à Saint-Jean de Passy, dans le XVIe arrondissement de Paris. Son père dirige une usine de confiserie puis partira dans le Sud pour ouvrir l'un des premiers «garden centers» de France. Des années après sa mort – il a alors 14 ans – Hulot découvrira tout un pan caché de la vie de cet homme qui fut chercheur d'or au Venezuela, connut Henri-Georges Clouzot, Henri Charrière (l'auteur de Papillon), et qui se montrait un fêtard toujours porteur de projets fous...



 

Mais la blessure la plus profonde, celle qui va le faire basculer dans le monde des adultes, c'est la découverte, un soir de Noël, dans la cave de la maison familiale, du corps de son frère aîné, Gonzague. Avec ce mot à côté de lui : «La vie ne vaut pas la peine d'être vécue.» Hulot s'efforcera de se prouver le contraire. Dans un premier temps, il s'éparpille : plagiste, livreur, photographe de plage, pompiste de nuit, éphémère étudiant en médecine... Coup de chance : il parvient à se faire embaucher par le fondateur de l'agence Sipa et parcourt la planète. Il se fait engager ensuite comme journaliste à France Inter, avant d'arriver à TF1 avec «Ushuaïa, le magazine de l'extrême» puis, en 1995, «Opération Okavango» et «Ushuaïa Nature».

 

Des années pour comprendre que la terre n'est pas un vaste parc de loisirs mais un trésor en péril dont il se rêve en gardien universel.



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The Guardian (UK): Fighting the return of fur

Hadley Freeman


18.9.2006

Fur may be back in vogue in Italy and the US - but in Britain celebrities such as Sadie Frost are trying to ban it from the catwalks. So how long will the high street hold out against high fashion, asks Hadley Freeman

In a self-consciously retro ice-cream parlour in north London, the designer Sadie Frost, clad in a simple chiffon dress and cardigan, ponders her new role as nude anti-fur warrior. She blushes a little when talking about a photograph taken of her for a new anti-fur campaign, saying, with a nervous tug on her cardigan: "Hopefully people won't be too repulsed by it." Twice she makes a reference to her age (41) and children (four). Yet when she talks about why she agreed to pose naked for the photo, taken by the singer Bryan Adams, she loses all self-deprecation: "For me, it was a positive message about my anti-fur beliefs. It wasn't for FHM, or whatever, but something I believe in strongly and hopefully people will take notice."

Frost, a lifelong vegetarian, is the latest celebrity to lend support to the anti-fur pressure group Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). "I've really noticed fur coming back in the past five years," says Frost, "and it has been getting more and more outrageous. I have never understood its appeal. It makes me think of blood, guts, cages."

There is little doubt that fur is back. The facts about it have not changed since it fell from favour in the 90s, but people's attitudes apparently have. The International Fur Trade Federation reported last year that sales of fur globally rose from $9.1bn in 2000 to $11.7bn in 2004.

Anti-fur campaigners insist they are still winning the war but, even aside from the undeniable financial facts, one look at the fashion catwalks - and audiences - tells a different story.

Even garments that one would have thought were impossible to fur up have been coated in pelts: for this autumn/winter, Burberry swathed its traditional trench coats in fur; Prada, in perhaps the most gratuitous use of fur this side of Louis Vuitton's logoed rabbit-fur earmuffs, fringed the soles of its platform shoes with it. The most flagrant use of fur on the catwalk recently, though, was at Jean Paul Gaultier's couture show in July, when a model came down the catwalk in a fur coat, replete with multiple fox heads bobbing along the sides.

"Designers have often courted controversy, and using fur does provoke outrage and column inches, but it does not get public support," insists Peta's vice-president, Dan Mathews. This isn't wholly true. In the past few years, fur has become so common on the catwalk that it causes no more interest than a particularly high heel. In fact, the only paper in this country to have carried a photo of Gaultier's fox-head coat was the Guardian, and that was because I, presumably falling for Gaultier's ploy, wrote about it.

This shift back to fur may seem remarkable, but it was fairly predictable. Just a decade ago supermodels strode across Peta's adverts, proudly declaring their preference for nudity over fur. Not wearing it was the trendy position, and that is precisely the problem: when a trend becomes too popular, the backlash can only be a matter of time. In other words, the anti-fur movement was a victim of its own success.

Like cheekily rebellious teenagers, today's celebrities, such as Jade Jagger and Kate Moss, frequently wear fur - which both excites the paparazzi and emphasises that they are far more interested in style than in being granola-munching animal rights campaigners. There is also something of the nose-thumbing adolescent in some of the comments by pro-fur celebrities and designers. Backstage after his fur-heavy show last year, which opened with Elizabeth Jagger wearing a fox stole, Julien Macdonald grinned: "I adore fur; it adds ultimate luxury and glamour to my collections."

Not everyone, however, is quite as comfortable with vocalising their love of fur. Few designers contacted for this article were willing to comment. Burberry issued the nervy statement that, "as a luxury brand there will be occasions where the use of fur will be considered important to the design and aesthetics of a product. In those instances we will continue to use fur. However, we will not use fur if there is a serious concern that the fur has been produced by the unacceptable treatment of the animals concerned." Not a single fashion editor of even the most fur-happy magazine on either side of the Atlantic was willing to express a comment, either for or against fur, on the record.

The most telling sign of the fashion world's shifting attitude to fur (or perhaps of the sheer emptiness of the earlier anti-fur rhetoric) came from two of Peta's famous faces in the 90s, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford. Campbell was photographed not long after wearing a fur coat, while in 2004 Crawford actually fronted a fur company's advertising campaign. Proving that you can be on the side of cuddly animals without being cuddly, Mathews wrote memorably biting letters to the two models. To Crawford, he wrote: "I know what can happen when film and television careers don't pan out, a model can become desperate ... You have become a body without a heart or head." To Campbell, he wrote: "I don't know what you're taking but it's not an ethics course."

Crawford dismissed the reprimand via her publicist, saying that she had never really supported Peta's stand against fur but was instead being "really nice" to the organisation when she posed for its campaign in the 90s.

The anti-fur position still has its fair share of celebrity supporters, such as Pamela Anderson, Charlize Theron and, somewhat unexpectedly, Simon Cowell. But as more actresses, models and pop stars have started to wear fur, an interesting, not to mention enjoyable, situation has arisen in which celebrities have started to snipe at each other's beliefs. Heather Mills McCartney, for example, recently stormed Jennifer Lopez's studio to protest against Lopez's fondness for fur in her wardrobe and her fashion range.

Indeed, it is hard not to read veiled references to her best friend Kate Moss in some of Frost's comments. "I think a lot of the time in this world you're surrounded by this kind of whirlwind when you're an actor or in a band or a model," she says. "It's very hard to remember who you are and your beliefs when you're told, 'Put this on', 'Put that on'. But they're not thinking about what they're doing, what message they're giving to other people. They're all so involved in how they look, what their skin's like, what their hair's like, how glamorous they are - surely they should be thinking about something a little deeper than that. To me, it shows someone to be a little ... shallow."

Does Frost ever lecture her friends when she says them wearing fur? "I used to be aggressive about my beliefs, but ranting isn't beneficial. If you say the facts calmly, they feel uncomfortable, whereas if you try to bully someone they can say, 'You're just being aggressive.' A lot of my friends know I'm anti-fur so maybe they choose not to wear it around me. Some others, though, go [she mimes someone waggling a piece of fur under her nose], 'Oooh! Trying to wind me up.' And I go, 'OK, very mature ...'"

The return to fur in fashion came not just from a sense of rebellion but from a wider change in attitudes. In the 90s, the trend was for anti-ostentation, such as grunge, or Calvin Klein-style minimalism. The early 21st century, however, has been dominated by the bling-bling look, with rappers singing about their love of champagne and piling on the diamonds. We have returned to the 80s, when it was perfectly acceptable to flaunt one's wealth through one's outfit - and nothing flashes the cash quicker than a big ol' fur.

For this reason, fur is still relatively uncommon in the UK, where people tend to find public displays of wealth less appealing than, say, in the US. It is easy to spot the American fashion press at the shows because they are, without fail, always the ones wearing the most pelts, even overtaking the once unassailably fur-friendly Italians. The Brits, however, mainly stick with their Topshop peacoats and Marni patterned jackets. "There is a very different attitude to the wearing of fur in Britain than in the rest of Europe and in the States," says Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue. "Here we tend to have more reservations about the wearing of fur than they do, and probably didn't follow the trend as they did a few years back. There are a large number of people ethically opposed, and frankly our climate doesn't exactly necessitate it. Also, in general, style in Britain is less ostentatious and flaunting than in many other countries. Very few shops stock fur, and at Vogue we feature very little of it." Most British department stores and many high street stores refuse to stock fur. In 2004 Topshop placed signs proclaiming "All our fur is fake" in their front windows.

None the less, the growing number of photos of celebrities wearing fur inevitably chips away at even the most resistant Brit's discomfort. Even though Tony Blair banned fur farming in Britain in 2003, the British Fur Trade Association (BFTA) reported earlier this year that the sales of fur garments and accessories were up 30% last year, and that the UK animal trade is now worth between £400m and 500m a year. If Blair is surprised by that, he need only look to his wife for proof: last year, Cherie Blair was photographed in a £1,300 rabbit-fur coat.

It's hard to know how to turn the tide or, to put it another way, who bears the greatest responsibility - designers, celebrities or customers. "It's all three together," says Frost. "Designers will keep designing it if the public want it, the public will keep buying it if the fashion icons are wearing it, and the fashion icons wear it because the designers make it. It's hard to know where to start."

Another problem for the anti-fur movement is simply that the fur industry is so wealthy. Many designers have become reliant on it for financial backing, and that means they are then obliged to feature fur in their collections. Rare is the autumn/winter fashion show these days that doesn't thank in its press release a fur company such as Saga Furs for its "support". Frost, who co-owns the fashion label Frost French, agrees: "As a designer, I've become aware of how fur is often pushed on you to get financial breaks along the way. I know that a lot of designers who were having problems financially, which we certainly have, have cleared their debts by using fur, but I would have really failed if I'd done that."

The final factor that eased fur back into fashion was the vintage trend. Antiquated fur jackets and accessories suited this look perfectly. Some have argued that vintage fur is harmless because the animal is already dead, so not to wear it would be a waste, but surely you could make that argument about about any fur piece. Moreover, as Frost points out, "wearing vintage fur gives the message that it's OK to wear it, so manufacturers will just keep making it".

In the UK, with its plethora of excellent vintage markets, this has allowed fur to seep into some British women's wardrobes. On London's Portobello Road, for example, little fur scarves and trimmed hats can be found every weekend without anyone raising a fuss. It is hard to see how high-end department stores will be able to resist fur's growing presence on the streets and in the collections for much longer.

But Peta continues to fight back. In 2004, while most people were gawping at the extraordinary image of Martha Stewart heading off to prison after her perjury conviction, Mathews was not distracted. He was more concerned by Stewart's outfit, which included what appeared to be real fur. Mathews wrote to her in prison, telling her off. Stewart, with commendable equanimity, wrote back to say that, actually, the fur was fake but, yes, she did occasionally wear the real stuff and, yes, she would now stop and, yes, when her sentence was up she would make an anti-fur video for Peta.

Peta's telling-offs don't always work. Anna Wintour, the editor of US Vogue, famously continues to wear fur despite being pelted by protesters with weapons ranging from a dead raccoon to a tofu pie. Some have felt that such aggressive tactics harm Peta's message but Mathews insists they are a necessary means to an end: "As long as it's just egos that are getting bruised and not bodies, I think it's fine," he says. "We definitely have plans for Milan and Paris fashion weeks [in the next fortnight]."

Despite what appears to be the inexorable slide towards fur on the British high street, there have been some positive signs from the fashion industry. In June this year, Polo Ralph Lauren announced that it would no longer use fur. "The use of fur has been under review internally and we feel that the time is right to take this action," says a spokesman for the label. Stella McCartney has proven, against all odds, that it is possible to run a fashion label without using any animal byproducts at all. And so far, I have yet to spot a single British fashion editor this season wearing fur at the shows. But then, it is still only September.

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