Last week was held the 26th edition of the Hyères International Fashion and Photography Festival (29th April- 2nd May). As in previous years since its creation by Jean-Pierre Blanc, the villa Noailles is the Mediterranean shell where artists, designers, photographers, journalists and other curious creatives gather to discover tomorrow’s promising talents in Fashion and Photography.
A certain laid-back and nostalgic feel reigns in the modern villa, with its shaded pink facades and ascetic cubist lines, that echoe the intriguing life of its owners, Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles. As active patrons and art commissioners, they played an active role in supporting avant-garde artists from the 1920s to the late 1960s. Picasso, Dali, Cocteau, César, Giacometti and the like were part of their large pioneering, intellectual and artistic circle of friends and acquaintances.
Today, the villa Noailles hosts Fashion, Photography, Design and Architecture festivals with the continuous purpose of supporting up-and-comers. Fashion designers Gaspard Yurkievich, Viktor & Rolf, Christian Wijnants, Felipe Oliveira Baptista and Charles Anastase distinguished themselves at Hyères.
The involvement of prestigious jury members participated in building up the recognition of the festival around the world. In the past, Azzedine Alaïa, John Galliano, Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, Helmut Lang, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Riccardo Tisci, Dries Van Noten and Christian Lacroix were part of the Hyères jury.
Following the tradition of getting “la crème de la crème”, this year’s jury consisted of:
Raf Simons, designer, Antwerp - President of the Jury
Tim Blanks, journalist, Style.com, London
Floriane de Saint Pierre, CEO Floriane de Saint Pierre & Associés, Paris
Michel Gaubert, musician, sound designer, Paris
Lazaro Hernandez & Jack McCollough, designers, Proenza Schouler, New York
Cathy Horyn, journalist, The New York Times, New York
Christopher Kane, designer London
Carla Sozzani, founder of Corso Como, Milan
And the 10 shortlisted fashion designers were:
Juliette alleaume and Marie Vial, France, Womenswear collection
Mads Dinesen, Denmark, Menswear collection
Michael Kampe, Germany, Menswear collection
Maryam Kordbacheh, The Netherlands, Womenswear collection
Oriane Leclercq, Belgium, Womenswear collection
Janosch Mallwitz, Germany, Menswear collection
Emilie Meldem, Switzerland, Womenswear collection
Céline Méteil, France, Womenswear collection
Oda Pausma, The Netherlands, Womenswear collection
Léa Peckre, France, Womenswear collection
The designers were exhibiting their collections in the back gardens of the villa, where they could chat with the visitors and discuss their work, inspirations and plans for the future. It served as a great opportunity for guests to take the time to appreciate the collections’ pieces remote from the catwalks.
On the Sunday night, Léa Peckre was awarded the Hyères 2011 prize; Emilie Meldem received the Special Jury Prize and Céline Méteil won the “Prix du Public” as well as the Première Vision Prize.
Léa Peckre – Winner of the Hyères 2011 prize
Léa Peckre drew her inspiration from cemeteries for her collection “Cemeteries Are Fields of Flowers”. Neither macabre nor gothic connotations prevailed in her work which was “polished in its execution, and intriguing in its fabrication” as Tim Blanks described it. On the contrary, she was interested in cemeteries for the special energies that emanate from these scenes and the isolation from technology.
As she explained, she extracted elements and graphic details that could be found there such as vines, gravestones, mausoleums, eccentric architectural pieces, wrought iron and wood. This led her to dig deeper into the realization of the materials and to develop her own kind of sequins. Seven types of sequins were created to illustrate seven different wood species and to achieve this, she spent a month in India working 24/7 with embroiderers.
Fascinated by the reflection and refraction of light, Léa Peckre combined opaque, see through and reflective materials in order to magnify the skin and allow the body to be perceived. And this contrasts with the architectural silhouettes consisting of stiff curves and lines.
Moved by Bill Viola’s powerful video/sound installations, she wanted her show to be an experience that goes beyond the garments. “Godspeed You Black Emperor!” as her show music. Very emotional!
Céline Méteil – Winner of the Public and Première Vision Prizes
Céline Méteil created a collection of airy and structured origami-dresses made from jaconas. This stiff and transparent cotton plain weave is ordinarily employed to create a three-dimensional muslin prototype of a garment. Her highly architectural clothing entertains a dialogue with the body, building on layers of transparency and lace, shaped in subtle balance with fluid knits.
Baptized “Plié‐Backstage”, the collection is mainly inspired by fitting sessions when prototypes are presented. It is a special moment when the attention is only focused on the garment. “It is pure, without any twirls. And going back to the use of this raw material doesn’t allow any mistake which challenged my creative thinking” she told us.
For the first time this year, Première Vision, the World’s Premier Fabric Show, has partnered with the Hyères Festival and sponsored one of its prizes but went beyond the awarding of the prize money. “As an incubator of encounters, we are keen to support the young designers by sharing our knowledge, contacts and passion for textiles” Pascaline Wilhelm, Director of the Première Vision Fashion Team says.
Well ahead of the Prize itself, the 10 finalists were welcomed at the show to meet with exhibiting weavers, professionals in the accessory, textile design and other sectors who signed up for providing the contestants with materials. Céline Méteil, the winner of the Première Vision Prize will see her whole collection exhibited during the shows in New York and Paris alongside some pieces of the other contestants’ collections.
Pascaline insists that “the harmony between the idea and the materials is instrumental and Hyères puts the spotlight on it once again making us want to go further and help young creative energies to better develop”.
To conclude the Hyères chapter, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jean-Pierre Blanc, founder of the Festival, a few minutes after the show officially closed and whilst people started dismantling the installations.
What is the story of the festival?
The festival aims at accompanying the career debut of promising young talents in the best way possible. We provide them with a unique platform to present their realizations to a panel of International actors. It all started in 1986 and we were lucky enough to count Françoise Chassagnac on board. She founded the very high-end Victoire boutiques in Paris. After she returned to Paris and started promoting the festival, things quickly speeded up. Many big names joined the movement and supported us which makes this a very human adventure! And we are trying to keep this human scale for the visitors as well as for the designers.
How do you manage to mix such professionalism, proximity and fun at the festival?
Our goal is to meet the people, discover quality works and share these with the professionals to help the new talents to thrive. There is no hidden communication purposes and I am sure both designers and visitors know that which makes the whole experience special and beneficial to everybody. On top of that, our sponsors trust us and respect the spirit of the festival. We have a clear idea of what we want to preserve. So, with a solid direction, we will not lose the soul of the festival.
How old were you when you started the festival?
I was 20 years old and the festival was my final year project at university…
What is your goal for the festival?
We believe in the festival as a necessary talent incubator and our role today is to make this a sustainable institution that will survive all of us.
On the same principle, the 6th edition of the Design Parade will take place at the villa in July and will reward the best young talents in design. Throughout the year, festivals and exhibitions in Architecture, Music and Cinema are held here, too.
The villa Noailles is more than ever a unique rendez-vous for emerging talents in various fields, following the tradition initiated by its owners, Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles. A fantastic heritage!
Discover Hyères 2011 Live by The Stimuleye
Words & Images : Romain Casella