American designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim surged into the global spotlight in 2002, as the co-founders of New York City’s preeminent boutique, Opening Ceremony. With its keenly curated selection of luxury brands, the shop quickly attracted the attention of the fashion world at large, and in July 2011, Leon and Lim were appointed as the creative directors of Parisian label KENZO.
Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, by Filep Motwary.
The strong friendship shared by this creative duo dates back to their years at UC Berkeley in California, where they met as students in early 2000. After a decade of successful project launches and hotly anticipated collaborations with other labels and designers, they continue to challenge fashion habits and to conceive new methods of design.
Today, both are enthralled by the KENZO spirit, which they perceive as a lifestyle all its own, and the label is shaped by the singular creativity born of their partnership. The originality and diversity of patterns and prints, the bright colours, music and rhythms of disparate cultures from around the world are all inspirations behind KENZO’s revival: under the guidance of Leon and Lim, it strives to achieve a universality which will seduce men and women of all ages.
Fashion has been a catalyst and playground for socio-cultural movements. Today’s trends are tracked from street to runway and back again at such speed that subcultures can barely exist beyond the brands. In what way do you feel today’s fashion is relevant?
Fashion has and always will be one of the easiest ways people can express themselves. We love drawing inspiration from everything around us: culture, art, music, food, travel, and from seeing what people are wearing on the streets. Today’s fashion, the product of a more connected world, is extremely relevant for what KENZO stands for today. That connectivity is what brings people together: streetwear melding with tailoring, night and day, comfort and style. All of these elements and more make fashion right now an extremely exciting place to be.
Do you think that something originally pegged as a luxury fashion brand could evolve into something that ends up being a mainstream feature? Is it a good thing being mainstream or not?
What some people seem to forget is that KENZO as a brand was never intended to be “luxury.” Kenzo Takada, when he founded the brand, dreamt of creating collections accessible to the street. We feel that mainstream isn’t a negative word and that mainstream fashion can still be heavily design oriented. KENZO has always been democratic, and since joining the company in 2011, we wanted people to remember this. Mainstream usually means something collectively appreciated and that is something we like to celebrate. We would love for KENZO to be a household name around the world.
Carol Lim, by The Stimuleye.
Do you think it’s always advisable for designers to be very visible, seemingly available to and engaged with their audience? Should relatability, especially in this age of social media and hyper connectivity, always be a goal? How should a designer understand himself or herself in relation to the consumer?
It really depends on the brand. For us at KENZO we love engaging with the customer because that is where you see if your collections are something people will want to buy and wear. We want people to understand who we are as a company, and in order to do that, we have to understand who they are as clients. Social media gives us a direct link to our customers and we love being able to have a dialogue with them. They can ask questions, discover more about our world and become a part of the KENZO community.
Humberto Leon, by The Stimuleye.
You’re surrounded by collaborators coming from very different directions. For KENZO, how important is the idea of “family,” and the creative exchange with its members?
It’s super important for us. Both at KENZO and Opening Ceremony we work with our friends. It creates an open dialogue and brings out the best ideas. Working with collaborators such as Spike Jonze or Chloe Sevigny, people we have known for such a long time, is a joy. It’s important to love what you do, and what could be better than brainstorming or working on projects with people you admire and respect on both a personal and professional level?
Talent is an obvious thing to look for in a contestant, but what other qualities do you think will be important to look for in a designer, right now, in 2014?
We will look for a strong point of view as well as for someone who understands the importance of the whole process of design. It is important to be able to understand the business aspects as well as all the creative ones. Also, we will look for someone who has both drive and a sense of humility.
What is the last thing you saw, read, heard or felt that stimulated you?
Carol: Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind, an animated film by Miyazaki.
Humberto: Seeing The XX perform an 40 person intimate show in New York.
Steve Hiett pursued a Masters Degree from the Royal College of Art Graphic Design before his Swinging London years, which saw him travelling the world as the lead guitarist of Britain’s psych/pop group The Pyramid.
But it was not until an unfortunate accident on stage deprived him temporarily of his Fender—namely, electrocution from an ungrounded microphone—that he turned back toward his roots in the visual arts, and picked up a camera. Initially documenting his own group while on tour, he was soon photographing the international rock scene at large.
Steve Hiett, by The Stimuleye.
Over the past four decades, Hiett has pioneered a signature style that has become instrumental to the global world of fashion photography. Favoringover-saturated images, off-centre framing, unconventional compositions, and dazzling flash work, his work has been featured regularly in renowned magazines worldwide—from Nova and Queen to British Vogue, Vogue Paris, Elle, and Marie Claire.
The Hyères festival 2014 will present the first major exhibition of Hiett’s oeuvre, emphasizing the unsung aspects of his images and re-establishing him as a figurehead in the history of contemporary photography.
Steve Hiett lives in Paris, where he continues to work as a photographer for renowned fashion publications (notably for Vogue Italy), as well as a musician, graphic designer, and art director.
What was the process behind selecting the images for your exhibition at Hyeres? What will the visitors see?
Steve Hiett: Raphaëlle Stopin came to my place and looked through everything I could find. She selected the images.
Steve Hiett, Vogue, 1979.
You didn’t plan to become a photographer, and it seems that your early photography was informed by your circumstances while you were on tour. Considering how digital and technological developments throughout media have changed the landscape of photography, what kind of career path do you think you would find yourself upon if you were only beginning your career in the present day? How would a young Steve Hiett go about his business in 2014?
SH: Starting today? I have no idea. Fashion photography is such a complex thing now; lots of politics and all the digital processes, which makes doing a photo so long and complicated. When I started, you just walked into a magazine and the art director would give you a job. I don’t think you can do that now. Also, to take a photo, you took a light reading, pressed the button and that was it; what you got back from the lab was it—end of story. Now you are dealing with all sorts of choices and the new world of retouching, which can go on for days. I worked for 30 years and never retouched anything. It never entered my head (or any other fashion photographer) as even a possibility.
Steve Hiett, 1979.
Looking back over your career as fashion photographer, is there a certain period in time that stands out for you in particular?
SH:Starting. I knew nothing, but it didn’t matter.
Having worked through the last few decades of fashion photography, what kinds of major aesthetic shifts have you noticed?
SH: Now the boss is the fashion editor. They decide who works and who doesn’t, but before it was the art director.
Steve Hiett, 1979.
There is always some sort of tension in your photography. How do you achieve it?
SH: Tension in my pictures? That must be subconscious: I never look for tension. I look for the right feeling.
What is the last thing that stimulated you?
SH:The last thing that stimulated me? Steve Cropper’s guitar solo on “Green Onions,” which I have listened to 1000 times. I listened to it again last night; still has that magic. OK, I know the notes he plays, but it goes way beyond that—it’s a magic thing.
For its 29th edition, Villa Noailles director and Fashion + Photography founder Jean-Pierre Blanc invited the American duo of Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, Kenzo designers and Opening Ceremony founders, to preside the Fashion Jury.
Amidst hundred’s of applicants from 55 different countries, here are the 10 finalists they picked.
Official lookbook by The Stimuleye.
Hyères 2014 - ALL EYES ON HYERES - by The Stimuleye.
All 10 designers were selected on the basis of a dossier and a full outfit, first by art director Maida Gregory-Boina, Maria Luisa buyer Robin Schulié and The Stimuleye colleague Filep Motwary, then by the jury presidents and their guests: Jay Massacret (V Man), Eric Wilson (InStyle), Carol Song (Opening Ceremony) and actress Chloé Sevigny. Read the rest of this entry »
Less than 48 hours before the beginning of the festival, we bring you our first HYERES EXPRESS video, a quick preview with the people who make the Hyères Festival – founder and director Jean-Pierre Blanc, photography director Raphaelle Stopin, and fashion director Maida Gregory-Boina.
A THE STIMULEYE PRODUCTION
directed by Antoine Asseraf
filmed & edited by Thibault Della Gaspera
interviews Filep Motwary
coordination Clementine Colson
sound design Ça Va Chéri
For its 28th edition, the Hyères International Fashion & Photography Festival made a daring choice.
As presidents of the fashion and photo juries and guests of honor, they invited 2 young individuals, each recognized in his field, but with one thing in common: they won Hyères.
Yes, this Hyères, festival graduates Felipe Oliveira Baptista (2002) and Charles Fréger (2001) return, not as young hopeful nominees, but as still-young confirmed professionals, now presiding over the juries.
Hyères 2013 fashion jury president Felipe Oliveira Baptista. Photo by René Habermacher.
Hyères 2013 preview. Visual by The Stimuleye.
And the nominees are…
FASHION SELECTION Tomas Berzins & Victoria Feldman, Latvia + Russia
Henning Jurke, Germany
Camille Kunz, Switzerland
Yvonne Poei-Yie Kwok, The Netherlands
Xénia Lucie Laffely, France – Switzerland
Satu Maaranen, Finland
Marion de Raucourt, France
Damien Ravn, Norway
Shanshan Ruan, China
Xing Su, Canada
PHOTO SELECTION Lena Amuat & Zoë Meyer, Switzerland
Emile Barret, France
Petros Efstathiadis, Greece
David Favrod, Switzerland
Dominic Hawgood, United Kingdom
Grace Kim, USA
John Mann, USA
Anna Orlowska, Poland
Peter Puklus, Hungary
Eva Stenram, Sweden
Fitting Model at the fashionselection at Felipe Oliveira Baptista's headquarters.
Where is JP Blanc there are always flowers.
The fashion selection meeting, with jury members, festival director JP Blanc and blogger Filep Motwary.
Photography selection: Portfolio of Dominic Hawgood, United Kingdom.
The entry of Petros Efstathiadis, Greece.
Prints of Eva Stenram, Sweden.
Full jury and exhibit lists coming soon, but we’re happy to report that fashion photographer and film maker Pierre Debusschere will be among this year’s exhibitors.
It’s hard to imagine those words coming from the mouth of Pascale Mussard.
But as art director in a very special company, the “petit h” division of Hermès, she knows how to wait for the right moment before springing into action, while in the meantime keeping an eye for that special quality — talent.
Which makes her the perfect Hyères 2012 jury member.
How should luxury be interpreted within a young creator’s work?
At Hermes, an object, a creation, must “speak”. It is nourished by the soul and hand of craftsman. It is designed, created, pampered, shaped, dreamed, ennobled, sublimated. It is made with respect, love, passion. Young creators work must inscribe beauty in use, and use in beauty. Nothing superfluous, only honesty every step of the way: from design to production. As heirs of a noble tradition of craftsmanship, our initiatives must be loyal and the innovative expression of this tradition. It must show our optimism and wonderful ingenuity, that last long and leave all horizons open.
What would you say is key to sustaining a fashion brand in a world like ours which is ever changing?
“L’obligation ardente de toute culture” Hélène Ahrweiller [the impassioned obligation of any culture]
Integrity : Never forget our values, from where you come from and invent objects that will last long, be transmitted and bring joy.
Continue to give testament to the relationship between man and the wisdom flowing from acceptance of nature and the unchangeable beauty of usefulness, by reflecting through craftmanship on the meaning of objects and the importance of the ties within mankind.
New petit h film, produced by Partizan.
The art at Petit h is so colourful, fun, happy. Do you feel that ‘happy’ is a keyword for our fashion era now? For our Hyeres contest, would you look for ‘happiness’ to be an aspect in choosing the winner?
My uncle Jean Louis Dumas was saying “où que vous soyez , refusez de vous embêter, dans un milieu de qualité , ce serait du gâchis.» [wherever you may be, refuse to be bored, in a place of quality it would be a waste.]
Petit h : May be not happy as « youthful» Petit h is indeed linked to childhood, particularly in the way to perceive objects and materials, in a new way without preconceptions or prejudice. It is a light, constant, free creation process which makes this petit “h” the legitimate child of Hermès: though sometimes impertinent, a child that does not cease to grow while learning on the materials, the hands that create, and the values of Hermès. For Hyères, it is a “team” judgment under a very innovative President: Mr Y Yamamoto.
Happiness is always a positive value for me, but innovation, fantasy and talent are more important.
Working for a house as historic and of great heritage as Hermès, how do you encounter the challenge to align new ideas with the skills of traditional craftsmanship?
“During a long time I worked on a one-on-one basis with artists and designers. Then, in 2009, the project truly took off and we started working with a cabinet of accumulated materials and craftsmen who worked closely with the artists (at the time Gilles Joneman, Christian Astuguevielle and Godefroy de Vireu) in the recreation process. The pieces created were then submitted to the family and the artistic direction, and the project was approved for a first sale which went very well, allowing us to keep growing.”
“An artist, designer, “geotrouvetout” [inventor] is invited by me to come to the atelier and to dive into the cabinet of materials – the materials are the source of inspiration for all creations, They must work with what is available. These materials will spark the creative process and discussion between the craftsmen and designers to find a solution that is concrete, realizable and esthetic according to Hermes values and procedures. The creation at Petit h comes primarily from a dialogue between the hands of the craftsmen, the materials and the ideas of the designer.”
Craftsmen and designers do not necessarily have the same priorities. What is the collaboration like?
Si vous écoutez vous finissez par entendre. Et un bon entendeur est plus facilement entendu…
[if you listen you will hear. and a good hearer is more easily heard...]
They have to be able to work together well, be able to respond to their partner. I frequently act as a middle person or a kind of midwife. I encourage the team members and say: “We have never done anything like this before, but why don’t we try it out?” If the designer knows exactly what he wants, then the craftsman has to use all his memory, skill and bring out all the techniques that he knows. Currently, we are working on a life-sized bear which is intended for the exhibition in Berlin (23 April – 12 May). The leather is folded using the origami technique – which is something that is for us completely without precedent. The designer Charles Kaisin calls up frequently to find out how we’re getting on. Last week, one of our craftsmen said he thought he would never be able to realize the idea. But eventually everyone in the studio found a method which works.
An inner connection must be forged between the designer and the craftsman. If this happens then I am prepared to defend their work within the company like a lioness.
What is the last thing that you experienced, saw or heard that stimulated you?
Recently I had the chance , the luck to visit really inspiring places, Naoshima (Japan), Inhotim (Brazil) two sites that offer a unique combination of major contemporary art collection and nature.
Two wonderful projects: A DREAM. Brazil and Japan, two countries very energetic and inspiring for me. A great encounter in Brazil: the architect Marcio Kogan ( Sao Paulo)
This summer a beautiful and peaceful trip: Ladakh.
Among the crew of fashion wisemen assembled by Yohji Yamamoto in the Hyères 2012 jury is Alan Bilzerian, owner of the eponym Boston boutique, who was kind enough to answer the questions of the Hyères partner blogs…
Alan Bilzerian by René Habermacher.
How important is craftsmanship in a collection for you?
Actually, its one of the first points that bring me closer to the designer. It puts a skip in my step when young designers succeed in translating quality.
When looking at the Hyères ranges, what is more important to you, the designer’s ability to conceptualize a range and see it through to its most artistic and expressive, or do you focus strongly on the commercial viability of the ranges?
I feel very uncomfortable about looking at large ranges of any designer. I believe you can exhibit your emotion of design very clearly in short exhibitions. But I look at both the commercial side as well as artistic expression.
How supportive are your consumers to young designers? What is the most challenging aspect of trying to sell a young designer, and what can the designers do about it?
The consumer will listen to us about any new designer and will certainly give it a chance with a try on or touch. The competition is so strong because of the immense amount of product, we feel you need a little push from the editorial side and a strong support system with shops of high caliber.
The corporate fashion conglomerates are assembling more and more brands under their umbrella and control through advertising the exposure of fashion in the editorials.This makes it harder for young, independent designers to create visibility and establish their vision and brands. How do you see this affecting your work as a buyer?
Its always very challenging to move into new names because in my shops I like consistency to prove that I made the right decision for the customer. The fashion umbrella of the conglomerates are needed as well because of the visible progress shown to the consumer, it helps momentum.
What is the last thing that you experienced, saw or heard that stimulated you?
His name may not ring any bells, especially if you’ve never attended one of the numerous exhibitions he curated during his years at Union des Arts Décoratifs or more recently in his new position as curator for Paris’ Galliera Fashion Museum.
But his appreciation, his judgement, informed by an impressive culture and understanding of fashion in the long run, leave little to doubt.
Who better to evaluate the young talent of tomorrow than one of the few people who get fashion beyond the trends of the moment ?
Days before his double Comme des Garçons / Balenciaga exhibit opens at Cité de la Mode, here is Olivier Saillard.
Hyères 2012 jury member, Olivier Saillard, Director of the Galliera Fashion Museum. Photo by René Habermacher.
Why should a garment be considered as important?
At the risk of appearing a bit primal, because we’d be a bit cold if we had to live naked, unless we all moved to warmer pastures !
Beyond climatic considerations, I love to see a garment as a solution, and to note that some designers are, to this day, still preoccupied by the idea of solving, through a way of dressing, our natural morning wardrobe.
You have produced works that straddle the line between fashion and performance. Or maybe there is no line. When looking at the collections for the festival, how important is the element of presentation to you? Would a poor presentation of a great garment influence how you score it?
Now more than ever, presentation interests me less than the garment itself. I skip fashion shows and rather appreciate presentations in show rooms. Read the rest of this entry »
The current situation is ambiguous. Designers are personae, they embody and diffuse the image of the brand. Taking into account the investments made by fashion houses in terms of publicity, designers have become true flag bearers.
But that’s where the error often lies, to hire people gifted in public relations but much less in terms of style.
Today there is a “bottom line” in fashion, people tend to look at things commercially. Does the buzz which personality give off equal the quality of the offering ? The question today is primordial. [In the case of] Sarah Burton for Mc Queen, we don’t see a flamboyant personality, but everyone is floored by her work.
Even though it’s a time of crisis, everything is about competitivity. Considering the number of collections (men’s, women’s, pre-collections), it’s about standing out through quality not only personality.
RENÉ / THE STIMULEYE: What is the role of the stylist in the creation of a fashion image ? How did the evolution of this role impact the role of the artistic/creative director ?
There’s now a lot of confusion between stylists and artistic directors, but I believe the two have very different roles. The artistic director works on the long term image of the brand, its DNA and visual impact, whereas the stylist reflects the brand’s fluctuating image by styling the clothes, whether it’s for ad campaigns or a fashion shows.
Marc Ascoli + photographer Craig McDean for Jil Sander
BRUNO / BRRUN: Does fashion have a political role beyond aesthetic and function ?
Fashion takes place in a different universe. It’s a universe where you’re bringing something else to reality, where there is little concern for politics, because it’s all about creation and individuals.
You can see today that there is a huge gap between fashion and the political reality of our times.
Fashion goes out of fashion; fashion is irrational so it can’t be political.
ANTOINE / THE STIMULEYE: When and how does a creator, singer, artist need to work with an art or creative director ?
An artist always needs an alter ego with whom to exchange ideas, to help write his/her story. It’s not just a matter of positioning. The artistic director has to be sensitive enough to understand the artist’s universe and then catalyze it ; establish an image visually and eventually commercially.
Marc Ascoli + photographer Nick Knight for Martine Sitbon.
What is the last thing which stimulated you ?
Being a very curious person, I am constantly stimulating my creativity through various cultural activities. The exhibit of Madame Grès curated by Olivier Saillard at Musée Bourdelle really seduced me. Everything was in its place, the location, the clothes, the spirit.
I was also very stimulated by the latest Comme des Garçons fashion show. I thought it was majestic.
For the 27th edition of the Hyères Fashion + Photo Festival, The Stimuleye presents choreographer Lynsey Peisinger’s PILLORY, a performance/video/installation hybrid.
Submit your 30 seconds maximum video before April 1st for a chance to have it featured in the installation, which launches April 27th at the 2012 Hyères Fashion + Photo Festival, next exhibits by Yohji Yamamoto, Jasons Evans, and Inez van Laamswerde + Vinoodh Matadin.
Imagine what lies beyond the wall of the PILLORY installation.
All submitted videos must be
no more than 30 seconds long,
from one angle/point of view,
and submitted before April 1st, 2012.
How do you reduce 782 applications into a curated selection of 10 photographers ?
Where is photography going today ?
Can the promise of future creation outweigh present output ?
I wouldn’t want to have to answer those questions, but the Hyères photo jury had to.
Hyères 2012 visual, featuring the work of 2011 contestant Ina Jang.
Photographers, curators and critics met under the guidance of photography director Michel Mallard and his team on January 31st to chose 10 photographers whose work would be featured at the 27th edition of the Hyères Fashion + Photo Festival, a festival which revealed in the past talents such as Sølve Sundsbø, Cédric Buchet, Robbie Rodriguez, Caroll Taveras, Linus Bill and 2011′s winner Anouk Kruithoff.
The 2012 photo jury, first row from left to right: Michael Wolf, Carla Sozzani, Michel Mallard,
Second row: James Reid, Aaron Schuman, Hans Gremmen, Raphaelle Stopin, Anne-Céline Jaeger,
Back: Jason Evans.
So first they looked.
Then they talked.
And finally they argued.
And then they questioned their choice and started the process all over.
Until at last, they had 10 photographers, from 3 continents.
Of course, come April 27th when the festival starts, these photographers will be competing for the jury’s attention, engaging in a series of one on one interviews and portfolio discussions in the Villa Noailles’ covered galleries, facing a cubist garden.
And yet the ability to spend quality time with high level professionals, to be exhibited next to the works of other 2012 exhibitions such as Inez van Laamswerde + Vinoodh Matadin and Jason Evans is a reward in itself…
Can fashion still dazzle us ? To prove that the answer is “yes” for its 2012 edition, the legendary Hyères Fashion & Photography Festival has invited Yohji Yamamoto to preside its fashion jury…
Leather Jacket by Daniel Hurlin, one of the contestants. Photo by René Habermacher.
There is problem in fashion today.
It’s a time of transition, adjusting to the internet, new markets, and the weight of conglomerates.
It’s a time of new opportunities for many.
But it’s also a time where a house like Dior cannot find a replacing designer without causing a game of musical chairs – we are to understand that there are so few established designers out there, that Dior’s next womenswear designer must come from a competing house.
As if there were no young designers up to the job.
As if Galliano himself had had much experience when he started.
The problem is, today, that it’s become increasingly tough for young designers to develop their visual aesthetic independently, starting from scratch.
And if young designers can’t develop their style, be allowed to mature and establish themselves, well, there won’t be any mature designers around when Dior needs one.
The submitted silhouettes of the 10 contestants. Photo by René Habermacher.
Luckily, there is Hyères.
Since 1985, the Hyères Fashion and Photography Festival, located on the Côte d’Azur in the South of France, has promoted the work of young designers by putting them in contact with the industry’s top professionals, organizing for them state-of-the-art fashion shows and drawing an audience of buyers and press from all over the world, giving them the chance to make a first impression.
Hyères has given us Viktor & Rolf, Felipe Oliveira Baptista (Lacoste), Gaspard Yurkievitch, and many others who now run the studios of the biggest houses.
The Hyères 2012 Selection jury.
This Hyères (forgive the pun), Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto has invited an all-star group to join him in the fashion jury: photographer Paolo Roversi, curator Jules Wright, Galliera fashion museum director Olivier Saillard, creative director Marc Ascoli, buyer Alan Bazarian, Hermès art director Pascale Mussard, and i-D magazine’s Terry Jones were all present to go through the dossiers of the applicants.
Jury member Olivier Saillard examining a dossier.
After hours of looking at dossiers and submitted looks, and additional hours of deliberation, the selection jury chose 4 men’s and 6 women’s looks from designers coming not only from traditional Western European countries but also from Australia, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Finland and Estonia.
The designers now have 2 months to complete 6 more looks from their collection(and a special Chloé look) before flying in to Hyères in April and being prepped by fashion director Maïda Gregory for the jury and presentations, fashion shows and showrooms happening over the 3 days of the festival. In addition to a Grand Jury Prize (15 000 Euros by L’Oreal Professionel) and a Première Vision Prize (10 000 euros), they’ll also be competing for a new Chloé prize, with a specially designed look.
Photographer Paolo Roversi saluting us as he leaves the Yohji Yamamoto HQ. Photo by René Habermacher.
Check back with us soon for interviews of the jury members and news about the photo competition as well…
Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets. Every year, the Villa Noailles art center in Hyères, France offers fashion designers and photographers the opportunity to step into the spotlight…
Photo by 2010 photo winner Yann Gross, look by 2011 fashion winner Léa Peckre.
Design duo Viktor & Rolf ? Stills photographer and Ricard award finalist Erwan Frotin ? Mugler men’s designer Romain Kremer ? Fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø ? ANDAM 2011 prize winner Anthony Vaccarello ? Lacoste designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista ? All these people have one thing in common – their work was all launched into the spotlight through the Hyères fashion and photography festival, which is now going into its 27th edition.
As a contestant, you must register by November 26th and send your application package by December 5, 2011. Your work will then be reviewed by a jury of fashion, art and photography professionals (including in the past Azzedine Alaia, Nan Goldin, Riccardo Tisci, Peter Knap, Karl Lagerfeld, Viviane Sassen, Dries Van Noten, Tim Walker, Christian Lacroix…).
If you make it past the first rounds of selection, you’ll be given production help for your collection, flown to the Hyères, given the chance to meet and talk with the 2012 juries, and have the famous Hyères team produce a gallery show of your pictures or a fashion show of your collection, in or around the unique setting of the avant-garde Villa Noailles, once vacation home to the likes of Dali and Cocteau…
And of course, the best part: my little finger tells me this year there will be even more prizes…
In case that wasn’t enough, here’s everything you need to know about Hyères in 2 minutes 6 seconds.
Wherever Sandra Backlund picks her thread it will lead to an incomparable result. That earned her the jury prize in Hyères 2008 and with it international recognition, on which Louis Vuitton had bought in shortly after. The dark Swede impresses with knit works that go far beyond the discipline of fashion and render the use of traditional artisan technique to visionary, body oriented sculptures. Looking at her latest installation CUPRUM 2010, it comes not as a surprise she had studied art history. The Piece made entirely of finest copper yarn, was commissioned by the Villa Noailles for this years exhibition.
The Stimuleye talked with Sandra about here recent work. The conversation was shortly interrupted by yet another request from the international glitteratti circuit: Sandra is truly knitting to the top!
Sandra Backlund's installation CUPRUM 2010 at the Villa Noailles' pigeonnier. Photography by René Habermacher
RENÉ HABERMACHER: What was the point of departure for this installation and the inspiration behind it?
SANDRA BACKLUND: Everything took off from the position they gave me for my exhibition, the Pigeon House in the north garden of Villa Noailles. I think it’s a very beautiful space, so I wanted to use it as a frame, rather then just a location. Because the house is partly open and the exhibition would run for one month outside, I had to carefully consider what material to work with. Already for my current S/S 2011 collection I had been working with a metal yarn made from 100% copper, so in a way it came natural to me to continue exploring that material. With a history of use that is at least 10 000 years old, copper is an important part of both our history and the future. It’s one of the world’s most useful natural resources, 100% recyclable without any loss of quality and it’s estimated that 80% of the copper ever mined, is still in use today. In a way I feel like the story of copper as a material and the way I try to approach fashion go very well together.
Can you explain me the process of planning, and the making of the dress? As always, the handicraft techniques and the human body is the main starting point for me. I never sketch, instead I work with a three dimensional collage method where I develop some basic bricks that I multiply and attach to each other in different ways to discover the silhouette. The only thing I decided already from the beginning was that I wanted some kind of link between the signature piece (the paper origami top) of my winning collection from the 22nd edition of the festival in 2007. Because of the different techniques, materials and colours and because of the process, I guess in the end the link is not so obvious, but there is a few things that is still noticeable, like the silhouette and the size gradings for example.
I’ve witnessed you working day and night on this piece – do you have a clue how many hours went into the making? To be honest, I think that this is the longest piece I have ever worked on. First of all, crochet is always extremely time consuming, especially when it’s layered like this. The copper tape is also very fragile and ones it’s used it, it’s impossible to change, so I had let go of the control and in a way let faith guide me to the end result. If we are talking hours, my estimation is around 500-600 hours.
Pieces of copper yarn in the the making, and Sandra at the exhibition space. Photography by René Habermacher
Your pieces are often very sculptural, with the artisan work involved, i wonder wether you consider to put your work in a different context than fashion? Of course I have consider this and many times questioned if fashion is really the right context for my work. As you said, my clothes are always quite sculptural and I also use methods when working that is more close to a sculptor’s, then a tailor’s. But somehow I always come back to the human body. I like to consciously dress and undress different parts of the body and I am very fascinated by all the ways highlight, distort and transform the natural silhouette with clothes and accessories. For me fashion is also one of the most democratic art forms, something that we are all related to. You don’t have to be a designer or a stylist to use clothes as a creative statement, but people in general could of course be more self-governed when t comes to fashion.
To me it seems difficult to render your unique approach into industrial production. How are your experiences with that?
About two years ago I was introduced to the long tradition of Italian top knitwear and apparel production. The challenge was to add to my collections something inspired by my hand made pieces that could require only a limited amount of manual work. It was of course a big step for me to go from working alone in my studio, inventing pieces while doing them myself by hand, to suddenly be working in a team of experts within a field of fashion that I never before have had the chance to get to know. I was overwhelmed by all the possibilities I saw and even though I will never give up doing my hand knitted signature pieces, these production tests really made me understand that there is ways to develop my collections that I never thought was possible.
What is this festival of Hyères to you? How was it to win – and to be back for this project? The whole event is really an experience for life when you’re a young designer, all the people you meet and the rush from showing your work in a context like that. I didn’t know about the festival before I met Diane Pernet and she suggested that I should apply. I was crazy happy already when I was selected for the finale and then the wind up… It’s really an important moment in my career so far and to be back again this year and meet everyone was kind of a flash back. When I think about it, I’m still a bit shocked that I was the winner.
What’s up next?
F/W 2011-2012 production, S/S 2012 collection and some up coming exhibitions.
The dress weights over 6kg, made from an archaic material that was the first to be 100% recyclable
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.
“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.”