What is the sum of a) a castle in the South of France + b) Raf Simmons, Jack McCollough, Lazaro Hernandez, Cathy Horyn, Christopher Kane (and the list goes on) sitting in the grass eating saucisson + c) demented young designers à la Viktor and Rolf presenting their designs under a tree?
The answer = the Festival de Hyères 2011, an annual fashion festival held by the French Mediterranean seaside, that acts like a platform to young creativity. With a jury that has, over years, been led by Karl Lagerfeld, Riccardo Tisci, Ann Demeleumesteer, the event has launched the likes of Felipe Oliveira Baptista, Gaspard Yurkievich into la mode.
After showing their creations to the jury in the form of individual presentation, the ten nominees, already narrowed down from hundreds of applications, held their final show last night. Modeled by Raf Simon’s own models, with a soundtrack by Paris’ main fashion week sound engineer, one felt as if about to watch Haider Ackerman’s latest collection. It was “an incredible, impeccable production,” according to Proenza Schouler's Lazaro Hernandez. What more can a young designer ask for?
There was not one but four prizes awarded, each that resonate with a different audience:
1) Emilie Meldem: Prize of the Jury By far the kookiest designer of the lot, Emilie is from Switzerland, and it is “my country’s eccentricity that influenced my clothes,” she said. “We might seem strict but we like to ski naked.” Far from the pseudo-Rick Owens popping up all over the world, her universe is both theatrical and wearable (simple capes and traditional suspenders, muslin blouses and tops made out of wooden sticks.) “I love her!!!” Tim Blanks of Style.com enthused with a big smile. “It’s her absolute focus, the completeness of her vision and her eccentricity that are her strengths.”
A personal favorite of mine, Meldem charmed me when I asked to interview her after her presentation and she humbly answered, “Are you sure? Because I can tell you, you have amazing stuff coming from the other guys. You’re going to be wowed by the next one.” How refreshing.
2) Céline Méteil: Prize of the Public & Prize of Première Vision Céline Méteil makes simple, kimono-esque dresses out of jaconas, a fabric used in studio for construction and mockups. “I liked the idea of using a fabric that isn’t valued as one, one that stays invisible,” Céline told us backstage.
The most wearable of all designers, we assume the public picked her for the wearability of her garments and their timeless elegance à la Jackie O. As for Première Vision, partners of the event for the first time, her experimentation with fabric made her a suitable winner for a company that focuses on the unsung hero of good fashion design: textile development. “Fashion design can’t be successful without good fabric design, but the link between the two is often difficult for young designers, often for financial reasons. It’s this relation we want to work on,” said Philippe Pasquet, the President of Première Vision. The fabric fair will produce an entire collection by Méteil and present it at the New York edition of the fair in July 2011.
3) Léa Peckre: L’Oréal Prize Entitled "Cemeteries are Fields of Flowers," Léa’s collection wanted to focus on the beauty, the organic-ness and calm one finds in cemeteries, and detach it from its mortuary function. “The landscape of these places, the trees, the flowers, became translated through floral shapes, wooden tones in the clothes,” she said. Although her work is reminiscent of Givenchy amongst others, Léa is an excellent textile designer and her pieces, composed of hand-sewn sequins in five different brown tones, showed patience and polish that's often lacking in conceptual fashion.
I personally wished they had rewarded some of the menswear designers because it is a field still fresh yet rapidly developing--and one that gives me the opportunity to inspect every single male model and call it ‘work.’
Check out a video about the festival:
And more photos: