The awarding of the $50 billion submarine contract to France has sparked vivid memories and family reminisces by the team at Adelaide’s luxury bridal gown house Calèche.
Eric Foubert from Caleche was delighted with the awarding of the contract to French company DCNS as announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday (April 26).
Eric’s parents Olivier and Colette were both born in France – as was Eric himself – and the Foubert family has been instrumental in forging business and community links between South Australia and France over many decades.
Olivier Foubert OAM was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his outstanding service to business, tourism and the community in work that has been acknowledged by both France and Australia.
He was a driving force of the French-Australian Business Club of SA, and highly visible in the promotion and understanding of French culture, as well as being highly active in the development of bilateral trade links between Australia and France.
According to Eric: “Our family came from France to Australia in 1973 when our parents founded the family business and for many years until the death of our mother, Caleche was exporting its Adelaide-made wedding dresses to France.
“From there it was distributed to several stores in France, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland.
“Now in its second generation, my brother Herve and I are still in the business. Hèrve’s wife Elizabeth who was previously a London-based designer first joined the business in France and worked under my mother until her retirement in 2002.
“Many Calèche designs use beautiful laces and embroideries that come from France and we are also proud to say that Calèche received a visit by former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard (AC) in its Norwood store and workrooms.
In another link to France, the efforts of Olivier Foubert allowed Calèche designer Colette to sit alongside designer Pierre Cardin at the Australian Bicentenary Celebration organised by the Australian Embassy in Paris in 1988.
Eric said: “This then led to our Adelaide handcrafted wedding dresses being sold in France. Talk about selling coal to Newcastle!”
In yet another French-South Australian twist, Eric recalls a fashion event Caleche was involved in onboard a visiting French warship.
“I think the idea stemmed for a discussion between the French Admiral of the French Marine Nationale who sat on the Terra Australis Committee in Paris, former Prime Minister Michel Rocard (AC), and my father who seized the opportunity to do something quite memorable,” Eric said.
“It was an incredible event having models parading our Calèche gowns on a visiting French warship and being walked by Naval officers and sailors in their resplendent uniforms on the deck of a warship.
“One of the highlights occurred when three models each wearing one of the three colours of the French flag walked on the helicopter runway, which received a lot of applause from the local personalities and dignitaries on board.”
Eric said that while France is renowned for fashion elegance, sophistication and fine cuisine, the country also has a strong scientific and technological power base.
“In addition to the initial and obvious economic benefits through jobs for South Australians, this submarine contract will see South Australia benefit from close cooperation with France in other industries such as food and tourism widening existing channels,” Eric said.