Craft and Conceptualism at Festival d’Hyères

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Now in its 34th year, the International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories—held each April in Hyères, France and backed by longtime sponsor Mercedes-Benz—once again spotlighted young, exciting talent from all across the globe. Across five days, attendees explored art exhibitions, runway shows, films, masterclasses, and workshops, while top finalists in the fields of fashion, accessories, and photography competed to win mentorship and financial support from key players in the industry, like Chanel, Swarovski, Première Vision, Galeries Lafayette, and Chloé.

On the fashion front, this year’s top ten finalists hailed from countries such as Latvia, Japan, Finland, Switzerland, and Austria. In addition to showcasing their collections in a Marc Turlan-designed showroom at Villa Noailles, the shortlisted designers presented their wares during a catwalk show at Hangar de la Mouture, a remote site just outside of Hyères. This year’s winner of the Grand Prix du Jury Première Vision went to Austrian menswear designer Christoph Rumf, whose lineup incorporated elements of decadence and sustainability, with upcycled fabrics like Persian carpets and ornamental details made from chandeliers and belly dancing accessories.

“I wanted people to feel something—a fantasy,” Rumf tells CR backstage, adding that his aim was to highlight the contrast between the core function of clothing and what clothing represents today.

A current student at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Rumf has been awarded 20,000 euros (about ,400) from Première Vision, support from Chanel’s Métiers d’Art, 10,000 euros (roughly ,200) from Petit Bateau, and the opportunity to show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin in July. The automobile manufacturer has been heavily involved in Festival d’Hyères for a decade.

“I cannot believe I won,” he says. “I’m just speechless.”

Rumf was selected by a jury presided by Chloé’s artistic director Natacha Ramsay-Levi. Members included Samira Nasr, Jojo Qian, Liya Kebede, and Botter’s Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh, the latter of whom who won last year’s prize and were recently appointed as creative directors of Nina Ricci.

“Next to creativity and talent, of course, it’s very important that this year’s winner had energy,” Herrebrugh tells CR. “The prize comes with visibility, of course, but you have to work hard to keep that going after the first few weeks.”

Botter’s winning collection last year touched on gender fluidity and cultural issues, with hats made of deflated basketballs, exaggerated silhouettes, and ocean-themed elements (a nod to the duo’s Caribbean heritage).

Botter added that the competition is especially important for young designers transitioning from school to the real fashion world. “There’s quite a gap there,” he says. “After you graduate, it’s really the month where a lot of students tend to get lost. You need a big foundation like this, otherwise it’s really, really hard.”

Craig McDean and Charlotte Chesnais led the juries from the photography and accessories categories, respectively. London-based photographer Alice Mann received a 20,000-euro grant from Chanel for her series of young female drum majorettes in South Africa, while Spanish accessories designer Noelia Morales took home the Swarovski Fashion Accessories Grand Prize for her bejeweled lingerie patches that shed light on women who’ve had mastectomy procedures.

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