Hyeres 2010 International Fashion Festival Wrap Up

A view of Hyeres from the Villa Noailles, site of the 25th annual Hyeres Festival de Mode et Photographie.

I landed safely back in San Francisco on Saturday, even after yet another delay caused by the rerouting of my flight from Paris (Thanks, trusty Eyjafjallajokull ash cloud!) The pilot actually announced that we’d be flying north of the danger zone and that we’d be able to spot the volcano from our flight path above.

The information caused a ripple effect of eager passengers from the right side of the aircraft to hurriedly get out of their seats and climb across the laps of passengers on the left for a glimpse outside, much to the dismay of the lefties, not to mention a couple of irritable flight attendants who were flustered by the sudden chaos. My husband happily spotted the wafting gray remnants; meanwhile I stayed seated lazily watching old episodes of Sex and the City on the plane’s in-flight system wondering when, if ever, I’d finally tire of watching the show’s reruns.

On the way home, I was thinking about how it’s taken me a while to absorb everything I experienced at the Hyeres International Festival de Mode et Photographie last weekend. Each day delivered new artistic stimulation: photography exhibits, video installations, music performances, panels on the business of fashion, copyright, and the state of new media, and a culminating fashion show of the young designers competing for the festival’s top prize from Europe and Asia. Half the time, we were both having a field day just photographing inspiring ensembles worn by attendees!

Most of the events occurred at the Villa Noailles, a former modernist chateau built in the 1900s and owned by art patrons Arthur Noailles and wife Marie-Laure Bischoffsheim.

View of Villa Noailles' courtyard, where festival-goers mixed and mingled.

Perched in the hillsides of Hyeres, the space has since been converted into a cultural center. The crowds included artists, photographers, fashion industry professionals and international media, all descending upon the typically sleepy Mediterranean town.

**Watch a short You Tube video I created from the festival here.**

Voluminous asymmetrical dress by Yiqing Yin of France.

The main attraction was the young designers fashion show, which took place inside a long, narrow portico in the center of town, by far the coolest venue I’ve ever been to for a fashion show!

Crowds gathered inside the Rue de Porches portico in the Hyeres town center for the fashion show and awards ceremony.

Most of the designs could be categorized as conceptual and meant to tow the line between fashion and wearable art. In other words, if you’re looking for the next Donna Karen in Hyeres, you’re probably looking in the wrong place.

My colleague Nathalie Doucet, president and founder of Arts of Fashion, aptly noted that the influence of this year’s festival president, Dries Van Noten, was evident in the choice of designers’ collections. Each  had the common creative element of heavily textured and manipulated fabrics. You can view some of the designer’s pieces below, and in an e-postcard I sent from Provence to the San Francisco Chronicle’s blog Unzipped.

Menswear by Lucile Puton of France.
An origami-like design of hand-cut fabric by Alexandra Verschueren of Antwerp, Belgium, who was inspired by the manipulation of paper for her grand-prize-winning collection.
Menswear collection, inspired by the trajectory of falling in love, by Jasper Sinchai Chadprajong of the United Kingdom.

Be sure to look out for my upcoming piece this month on Hyeres in the Chronicle’s Sunday Style section!

Festival winner Alexandra Verschueren of Belgium being interviewed by the international press. All photos by Edric Itchon.


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