The location for this year’s event is once again the beautiful Villa Noailles in the hills of Hyères, which was designed by the architect Mallet-Stevens as a summer residence for Viscount Charles de Noailles and his wife Marie-Laure Bischoffsheim.
The villa has a large park stocked with Mediterranean plants, which was laid out by the Viscount himself; but even more unusual is the garden attached to the villa. It is a triangular cubist composition designed by Gabriel Guevrekian in 1925. The Viscount and Viscountess were important patrons of their times, above all for the modernist and avant-garde movements of French art, and the house received important personages from this world, like Giacometti, Cocteau, Picasso, Dali, Buñuel, and Man Ray. Currently the villa is administrated by Jean Pierre Blanc, who hosts the annual festival, and when he is the first person you meet at the entrance of Villa Noailles – after a seemingly endless, climb to the top of the hill, that leaves even the most expert walker breathless – it can only be the start of an exciting day.
The weather forecast for Saturday the 27th of April, was less promising, with rain which was sometimes imperceptible but at times took away the magic of a landscape that would otherwise be breathtaking.
This year, there were 355 applicants to take part in the festival of Hyères and it was exciting to have the opportunity to get to know every one of the ten lucky finalists selected for the 28th festival competition: Tomas Berzins & Victoria Feldman, Henning Jurke, Camille Kunz (camillekunz.com/camillekunz.com), Yvonne Poei-Yie Kwok (yvonnekwok.nl), Xénia Lucie Laffely, Satu Maaranen (redmilkmagazine.com/it/2013/04/17/architectural-shapes), Marion de Raucourt, Damien Ravn (damienravn.tumblr.com), Shanshan Ruan and Xing Su.
Chance would have it that Satu Maaranen, who was declared the winner of this year’s event, was the first person I spoke to as soon as she arrived at the showroom – in a small garden tent sheltered from this year’s rain, behind the villa where the ten lucky finalists have been staying. Very blonde, and Finnish, 28 year-old Satu Maaranen told me where she drew her inspiration from for this collection, which is linked to the natural world and the landscape that surrounds her. Her voluminous clothes, each one hand-painted, are captivating. It is probably the effect they had on the jury, given their final choice.
Amongst the winners were also the Swiss Camille Kunz, who took the Chloé prize, with a menswear collection entitled “The Boy Vanishes”, which revealed a consistent use of clothes immersed in silicone. The Chinese Shanshan Ruan, on the other hand, took the city ofHyères public prize for light gauzy clothes with a modern cut.
Text and photos by Emanuela Virago