Below our office window in the mythical Villa Noailles, people sprawl in the gardens, visit exhibits and discover new designers and photographers. Creative stimulation everywhere. The yearly invasion of Hyères, a sleepy town in the Côte d’Azur, is at its peak, with this micro-festival gaining even more attention by the international press.
On the secluded terrasse in front of us, Raf Simons, the President of this year’s jury, sits in the shade of an umbrella having conversations with numerous journalists, while simultaneously the crowds gather and mingle: headhunters, designers, buyers…
Christopher Kane is here, teamed up with Carla Sozzani of Vogue Italia, Jack and Lazaro of Proenza Schouler came in from NY to have a look at the 10 designers’ work.
All Photographs by René Habermacher
“It’s very much about contrast: My work is always focused around the vulnerability of women. I play with it, I try to hide it or extend, to show it or protect it. This collection is really about my most vulnerable moment because I ended love after nine years of relationship. I thought I should speak about this in my own language which is fashion. In the beginning it was all black. But later on in the process I was getting better and was seeing the good things about my situation:
Life goes on and there is so much in the world, so I said to myself don’t worry so much! The world is sad enough, so bring some light!
So I brought that into the collection by using white and Swarovski elements and my favorite materials silks and leathers, to work the contrast between fluidity and the protective. The silhouette is very tall from the waist on, so it looks a little surreal and dramatic.”
“The last thing that stimulated me was just my surroundings I guess. I am having a lot of fun lately and I am really enjoying this festival: it gives me energy and I want to move on and work and do something with this feeling of being selected and being a little proud to be so. It’s a good feeling, so why not do something with it.”
“We always help each other on our own collections, but this is our first official collaboration.
We met in high school while studying for our baccalaureate in applied arts. After that we pursued fashion design in different schools–I was at Duperre and Juliette was at Chardon Savard. We lived one year apart and then moved in together in order work together. In fact, the collection that we are presenting in Hyères, is a collection that we made during the time that we shared an apartment.
As for the collection…our starting point was a scarecrow. Using the image of the scarecrow we started to explore the feminine silhouette. Eventually we turned this silhouette upside-down and reworked all of the different facets of it. We were also inspired by cubism so, in the collection, there is the idea of a double body–like one body superimposed on another. For example the shoulders have large proportions and are backwards, the skirts are divided in two and are skewed –so all of the body parts are somehow decontextualized. And we see the real body underneath or in the back, usually highlighted with bright colors. All of this creates disproportional, unhinged silhouettes. Plus, the wooden shoes for the collection create a strange walk”.
“The last thing that stimulated us — Well…the festival! And getting the chance to show our first collaboration. Since we were at different schools, we never had the chance to realize a project together and it is the energy of our duo that motivated us”.
“I try to make a spirit army with no nations and no faces. My collection is a lot about shame and pride and the feeling of guilt.
It’s also about how to use the past in the present and the future and learn from it. This is my graduation collection. At the university in Berlin we do one each semester but this is the biggest one and the first with so many pieces. Though it’s a men’s collection, I showed it on women as well in the past.”
“The last thing that stimulated me was the film HOLY MOUNTAIN. That’s one of my favorite films. But right now I am looking a lot at Easter bunnies because I saw DONNIE DARKO. I use a lot of film and music in my work and literature.
Holy Mountain was part of the inspiration for this collection but mostly the colonial history of my home country Denmark. Because when I moved to Germany I found out I didn’t know anything about it, so the research for the collection started in Iceland. I went for a residency to Reykjavik and collected pieces of each culture that was under Denmark. It’s more like a typology of cultural pieces that I tried to put together.”
“The collection that I am presenting is the collection that I presented for my graduation at Lacambre last year. It’s called CEMETERIES ARE FIELDS OF FLOWERS. I am using a lot elements from cemeteries that interest me like wood, tombstones, mausoleums, bouquets of flowers, the contrast between wrought iron structures and the landscape. These elements, reworked in the materials used for the collection, provided me with really organic shapes–somewhat like trees that climb stones in the cemetery for example. There is a lot of embroidery in the collection as well.
Here in Hyères the defilés are much more structured then at Lacambre. But actually, my show at Lacambre was one of the more simple, subdued shows, so the Hyères show fits really well for me. I like when it is rather simple.”
“The last thing that stimulated me last: I want to finish my collection for Hyères! I am developing new pieces reworking some of the existing pieces and I think it will add a lot to the collection and that it will be better.”
“The collection is called GRADUATION and is based on this time of growing up around graduation, when clothing becomes or is really important to feel superior and inferior towards each other. That’s where I started my research and found certain typologies of clothing that represent sorts of strength like a bomber or a kabana. I tried to rework them and see what is necessary for them to communicate strength, take away or add and stylize certain things. It’s basically between the athletic and grunge, working on clichés that are very pop cultural, of american high school and images from TV or music. I’ve worked primarily with wool and nylon. In general the collection is in between about being visionary and very optimistic towards the future in a very naive way but then also being scared and a little bit pessimistic.
“The last thing that stimulated me is a book by Victor Pelewin thats called “Empire V” — thats really stimulating!”
“This work is a mix of two different influences: the first I call “fake” which using a synthetic, plastic, smooth surfaces. The other is a “rock n roll” influence–I used Kim Gordon, Sonic Youth’s front woman, as my muse. She is a pure rock n’roll force.
The collection reflects a mix of those two things. Part of the “fake” influence were masks that I created for the collection. But the masks won’t be in the show. It was a last minute creative choice when I decided to take them out of the collection.”
“The last thing that stimulated me… That is a very large question! It’s in general music and cinema — that stimulates and inspires me the most.”
“My Collection is called “Plié Backstage”. I worked for Galliano and for Felipe Oliveira Baptista, but I was in the second atelier, not in the design studio. At Balanciaga, I was also in the second atelier. Then I did a first collection for the Galliera museum. Now I am reworking that collection for Hyères. But I haven’t had a lot of visibility yet as a designer.
The jaconas material was used for the prototypes and I decided that I wanted to use this material in the show — again the idea of showing something that is usually used only behind the scenes. The “Plié” corresponds to the construction of the garments.
Jaconas is usually only used for prototypes. It is a test material used to work on the construction and the draping of a garment. Its not a ” finished” material. And I would like to start to commercialize this material.”
“The last thing that stimulated me is my daughter Rose. She is 10 months old.”
“It’s a men’s collection called EXPLODED VIEW of originally 8 silhouettes which I lowered down to seven. It started from the EXPLODED VIEW drawings from engineers and product designers mixed with modern art and how you can transform sculpture, modern architecture and deconstructed architect theories into clothes and mix it up, mess it up with the rules of menswear.”
“The last thing that stimulated me was foam sculptures of a girl called Barbara who cut the foam you used to mold up walls in between. She dip dyed them into color and hung them as big sculptures. This was very close to my first inspiration of the collection at starting point, which were cardboard installations which looked in a way very similar but in a different technique.”
“It was through working on my other collections that I developed a manifesto: so this collection is based on the manifesto I wrote that describes my values and my aesthetic, such as minimal eccentricity and other things—there are rules, 8 of them. The manifesto is based on Switzerland, a little country that is a little bit lost in the middle of mountains that started to develop its own ritual around nature and the other surrounding elements. For example they have a carnival that celebrates the end of winter where they dress up in costumes that look like objects found in nature. They also have sports rituals and events, such as cross-country skiing, nudist hiking, Swiss wrestling, which takes place outdoors and they wear short with cuffs. Also, the people have a thing with animals–they live with animals and they are friends, but at the same time, they eat them! ”
It is all of these different relationships with nature that inspired me. Also, in Switzerland, the people have a very authoritative and creative character, which makes them really strong in areas like graphic design and technology. I am inspired by this rigidity and authoritativeness mixed with their relationship with nature. ”
The last stimulating thing: “Manger des sushis!”
“I am presenting the collection which is named FRAGILE FORMATION. My inspiration i took from the elements of nature and organic shapes. I like to make big sculptures and shape around the body.
At the same time keeping it really fragile, I did all clothes moulded from a single length of fabric on a dummy. The coloring of the fabrics is also hand dyed. They’re really fragile pieces: if you touch or wear them you feel they are precious and to be taken good care of.”
“The last thing that stimulated me were some events in my family.”
Alexandra Verschueren is the winner of last Hyères, 2010. The stimuleye met up with her to talk about her experience.
ANTOINE ASSERAF: How was it since last year?
ALEXANDRA WERSCHUEREN: Good! Well, it was very hard to be honest: I was pushing myself a lot! Like, How can I make something thats better… but once I started to let go from that feeling it became easier.
So you wanted more sexy?
I actually just wanted more easy. Something that I would want to wear myself because its easier as a student to make something very conceptual. This time for me it was really more about change. For me its easy to think a lot — on the contrary it’s not easy to turn my brain off. So I really wanted a change. The collection is called SHIFT and was made especially for Hyères with the aim of hoping to sell it from September on.
Do you think that in fashion now is kind of a need to turn your brain off a bit?
Yeah, I don’t mind, I think it’s important! But I believe the collection is not an empty one either because I wanted to change again and be more fun. So the song I am using for the presentation is also quite fun! It’s very unlike me actually: when I had my phone call with Maida I thought ‘they’re going to think I’ve gone crazy!’ but they liked it.
Sometimes you win but then after you go home you’re like: “what am I going to do now?”…
It was a bit like that. And also I got some weird advice from people, important ones that tried to get me to do something that was not really me I think. And the pressure you know: am I really good enough?
It seems like 15 000 euro was a lot of money a couple of years ago but now…
I feel bad about that actually, because it went out so quickly, it was like “pouf pouf” okay it’s gone — damn! daddy…!
Hyères helped me a lot. Thats also I didn’t wanted to make something that’s not produceable.
The last thing that stimulated me was my last meeting with Maida!