MIDWAY : ‘Invisible’ Kylie knighted
Kylie Minogue took one more step toward general canonisation this week when, a little surprisingly, she became a Chevalier Dans L’Ordre Des Arts et des Lettres (a knight of the order of arts and letters), in Paris. The title is given to those who have “significantly contributed to the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance”, and French culture minister Christine Albanel took a good stab at describing why Kylie qualified: the shades of sensuality, apparently (innocent, naughty, sophisticated, depraved); the Gaultier costumes; the homage she has paid Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg; the moments of grace in her concerts.
“France dresses you, France immortalises you and takes care of you, and France inspires you.” It is true that the order has a
reputation for being eclectic, and has long been open to people who are not French. As with a well-planned party, there are indisputable grandees: TS Eliot, Ella Fitzgerald, Anthony Burgess — as well as some more... intriguing guests, such as Jude Law and Bruce Willis.
Kylie can be credited with having provided a soundtrack to much of the past decade, but contribution to “French cultural inheritance”? Perhaps it was the deathless Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi, from Kylie (1988), which couldn’t even muster up enough French to finish a sentence: “je ne sais pas pourqoui I still love you”. Or perhaps it was Finer Feelings (1992), whose video featured the Tour Eiffel.
Perhaps it has nothing to do with the songs per se, or even her reputation. “Kylie Minogue is a francophile,” says a press attache from the culture ministry, when I ask. “She declared numerous times her love of France and her personal and emotional links with our country.” She’s had a couple of French boyfriends, and she received chemotherapy in France.
Let’s not forget, either, that in 2001 she appeared in a Eurostar ad, twirling in a wedding dress, sliding down bannisters, tripping across bridges. “My favourite journey is when
I just disappear for a couple of days. I love it! It’s like being invisible! I can go to places I wouldn’t normally go to, and do things I’ve always wanted to.” Invisibility in France would
be a truly novel reason for the award.