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Hyères 2018 Finalists

Jun 01, 18 Hyères 2018 Finalists

Every spring at the end of April, at a time when all of the French Riviera is buried in the scents of blossoming jasmine and roses, the International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories is held in the small resort town of Hyères. Villa Noailles, where all guests, finalists and jury members gather, is located on a high promontory above the sea, next to the picturesque ruins of a medieval castle. The pearl of the modernist architectural style, the villa in the first half of the 20th century served as a place for holiday meetings of the entire artistic avant-garde of the swinging twenties era. Her then owners – admirers of arts and patrons of art, Viscount Charles de Noeay and his wife Marie-Lor, gathered here the “cream” of intellectual-creative society from around the world (who, incidentally, at that time were all living in Paris). Sunbathing and drinking a chilled Provençal rosé in a pleasant company here came Giacometti, Cocteau, Picasso, Dali, Bunuel, Man Ray and other future celestials from the arts.

The director of the Villa Jean-Pierre Blanc, the genius of the place, whose childhood passed next door, decided to resume, in some way, the tradition of art meetings. In 1985 he founded the European Salon of Young Stylists (Salon européen des jeunes stylists), later renamed as the Festival of fashion, photography and accessories. A landmark year for the villa was 2015, when Karl Lagerfeld himself with his entourage came to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the festival. The permanent creative director of the fashion house Chanel with his inherent talent to transform everything he touches into a bestseller, acted as the art director of the festival, while the princess of Monaco Caroline herself was listed among in the members of the most prestigious jury. By the way, Chanel strongly supports the brainchild of Jean-Pierre Blanc: the artisan houses belonging to the group (such as Maison Lesage and Maison Goosens) take under their wing the winners of the competition, proposing to create a capsule joint collection.

The 33rd edition of the festival in April was presided by a Parisian with Colombian roots Haider Ackermann. Known for his futuristic creations with a composite cut, the neo-romantic Ackermann is familiar with the villa and with the competition: his parents lived five kilometers from Hyères, and in 2008 the designer was a member of the jury. In addition to the president, the actress Tilda Swinson, the singer (and a daughter of Jane Birkin) Lou Doillon, the perfumer Ben Gorham, the accessory designer Delfina Delettrez Fendi, the writer and historian Farid Chenoune and the winner of the previous year Vanessa Schinder, came to evaluate the finalists this year.

The first thing you notice when you come to the festival is the public rate, radically different from fashionistas at the Paris weeks. Here everything is imbued with innovative ideas, with the enthusiasm of the finalists with glowing eyes, full of hope and faith in success, and intellectual spirit, devoid of snobbery. Here you will not find IT-bags and recognizable signature jewelry of luxury brands, without which the guests of the Parisian defiles cannot do. Here everything is done by hand, in tiny ateliers and the collections presented to the competition by finalists, for the most part – are their graduation works.

At the same time, the quality of these seemingly “semi-handicraft” works is pleasantly surprising. It is top! Both in terms of originality of the presented project, and in the respect of its execution. Discovering the work of ten finalists-designers, talking to them, I caught myself thinking that the jury faces a very difficult task – to choose the best of the best. After all, every one of them is incredibly talented, and each collection is unique, original and does not resemble the rest.

In short, the festival in Hyères is, in my opinion, a mandatory place in the program for all, who consider themselves to be a part of a world of intellectual, young, new fashion and are looking for sources of inspiration.

Rushemy Botter accepted my Facebook friend invitation couple of hours after I sent the request. Surprisingly “accessible” for the moment designer from Holland with Caribbean roots, who works in tandem with Lisi Herrebrough, a graduate of the famous Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, this year became the winner of the festival.

A few months earlier Rushemy became the finalists of the prestigious LVMH competition. In an interview, the young man says that as a child he did not dream about a career as a fashion designer, because in the environment where he was born and grew up, it was not cool to deal with fashion or, to say the truth, shameful. Entering to the cloths shops, he secretly from his friends-teenagers was flipping through glossy magazines.

Nowadays the youth subculture of the urban outskirts of the late 80’s catalyzed into a trend among millennials, the main generation of the second decade of the 21st century.

The collection of Rushemy and Lili, entitled “Fish or Fight”, captivated the jury of the festival by a combination of originality and actuality: bright colors inspired by the native Caribbean island, fashionable destructivism and ecological approach, without which, perhaps, a designer of the future cannot be imagined. Fishing nets, used as elements of the look, are designed to draw public attention to damage made by the industrial fishing to the environment and local fishermen.

But to me, I must admit, the work of Linda Kokkonen from Finland is much closer. In her graduation collection of the Aalto Helsinki University of Technology she presented looks inspired by the mysterious world of magic. Wardrobe of a modern witch with biker’s habits, in which dominate high-necked dresses made of a thin, as if woven from a spider-web, silk. And also motorcycle jackets from a recycled leather, personally assembled by the designer from, as they say, shreds. Definitely, sustainable fashion is the main trend of the future generation of fashion lovers!

A young designer from Canada, graduated (like Haider Ackermann) from the Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp, Marie-Eve Lecavalier won the Chloé Prize. Her creative world is so fantastic that journalists involuntarily raise the question of the girl’s use of hallucinogenic substances. Marie-Eve smiles and claims that she has never tried drugs, and the looks she creates on the verge of dreams and reality are the pure fruit of her imagination. Likewise most finalists of the festival, Lecavalier does care about environmental issues. Main materials she works with are the recycled second hand denim and leather.

The world of Impressionists – full of colors and forms – inspires the finalist from Belgium Sarah Bruylant. Her huge hats and hand-painted crinoline dresses, are like animated pictures – full of life and femininity.

Having visited Aalto, Haider Ackermann was so inspired by the works of students that he was ready to select all ten finalists exclusively from this Finnish university. Saint Petersburg born Antonina Sedakova reached the final with a men’s collection inspired by songs of a famous Russian singer from the late 80’s and early 90’s Viktor Tsoi. The protagonist and, as it is now fashionable to say, “style icons” for a whole generation of teenagers “from the outskirts” of the cities of the decaying USSR. And again variations on the inevitable street-style theme, but this time in a higher, “intellectual” register. Antonina talks passionately about her work; she is full of enthusiasm, energy and talent. Looking at her work and listening to her vibrant speech, I’m overwhelmed with pride and faith in the younger generation of Russian designers who, I’m sure, would find their way to the success despite all the difficulties.


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