“Smiled on by the God of Weather, Jean-Pierre Blanc’s 27th annual festival of Hyères finished yesterday with only the final morning receiving the predicted rain that had been promised on the Internet days before. With the fashion jury headed by the inspirational Yohji Yamamoto, and the photographic jury headed by one of early i-D’s special sons, Jason Evans, the last few days have been spent in hard talking and joyful meetings in the welcoming ambience of the Villa Noailles.” Tricia Jones
Selected by Yamamoto, the fashion jury was as experienced, diverse and forward-thinking as you would expect. The panel included (among others) photographer Paolo Roversi, director of the Musée Galliera Olivier Saillard, art director Marc Ascoli, Wapping Project director Jules Wright, Boston boutique founder Alan Bilzerian, film director Christoph Honoré and i-D founder and Editor-in-Chief Terry Jones. Sunday night’s L’Oréal Professionnel grand jury prize went to Finnish triple act Siiri Raasakka, Tiia Siren and Elina Laitinen for their party-hard, colour-hard menswear, championed from the beginning by Terry Jones, who told WWD’s Katya Foreman, “i-D will always support people who bring the theatre of fashion back into real life. They made clothes that the guys looked like they were having fun wearing… that is what the world needs right now.” Estonian knitwear designer Ragne Kikas picked up the Première Vision award and Canadian-born Steven Tai, currently an intern at Stella McCartney, received the Chloé Award for his ultra sophisticated womenswear collection. Fellow Canadian Jessica Eaton won the Photography Grand Jury Prize for her graphic series ‘Cubes for Albers and Lewitt’ and Swiss photographer Namsa Leuba was awarded The School of Visual Arts grant for her bewitching images considering deconstruction and cultural crossover.
While Hyères is about scouting and celebrating new blood, in that order, there’s also an exhibition of established artists, to inspire and to delight, which this year included work from Inez and Vinoodh, Jason Evans and an installation by Yohji Yamamoto, set in a disused swimming pool. Working together to push for an imaginative future, jury leaders Evans and Yamamoto (pictured) first met when the photographer was cast in the designer’s catwalk show. This picture was taken by Jones on his iPhone, who sent it to Evans, who then replied with the suggested caption: “23 years later… I had a show next to Yohji Yamamoto at Hyères this year. When I was a student I was cast in a catwalk show for Yamamoto, and went on to appear in the ad campaign and make a little film of the collection with Nick Knight’s support. The money I was paid helped get me through my third year at art school, the experience was invaluable.” This kind of democracy, of creators exhibiting side by side, runs throughout Hyères. The festival is an opportunity for new talent of course, but it’s also an opportunity for the older, already established creators, to give a leg up to the people they think deserve it. Then they get to sit back and watch with the world as they make the most of it.
This year, the underdogs came out on top, which says enough about them as innovators, and even more about the judges who put them first. It’s no coincidence that this was Yamamoto’s year of jury presidency. He picked a panel who would favour the unexpected. Yamamoto told WWD, “It is very gorgeous for young students — possibly too gorgeous. The location is comfortable, beautiful sky, beautiful sea… It is quite unique, a cultural adventure, which I appreciate.” Now the sun has set on Hyères 2012, the best part of it is that mostly unknown young people can return home with a wad big enough to get their dreams going, and the priceless satisfaction of validation.
i-D’s big thanks must go to Yohji Yamamoto for such a special invitation, to Coralie Gauthier for her wonderful organisation and to all of Jean Pierre Blanc’s team who have made the weekend such a pleasure. The Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography exhibition runs until May 27th at Villa Naoilles, France.
Text: Sarah Raphael
Images from top: Yohji Yamamoto and Jason Evans/ Steven Tai / Siiri Raasakka, Tiia Siren and Elina Laitinen / Jean-Pierre Blanc and Yohji Yamamoto / Namsa Leuba / Jessica Eaton / Judging Panel 2012.