Back in April 2006, the International Festival of Fashion and Photography took place at Hyères. The event at Hyères, which is in it's 21st year, comprised of fashion and photography exhibitions from established names and then a competition in both areas to celebrate the new ones. Though I was aware of it happening and really wanted to go (a fashion competition in sunny sunny Provence, France - who could resist?), alas, work prevented me from doing so and frankly, the British fashion press' piss-poor coverage of the show meant that the festival was somewhat overlooked.
However, the Arts of Fashion event in Denton, Texas gave me the opportunity to discover the best bits of the festival - namely the winners of the fashion competition! Anthony Vaccarello, winner of the Grand Jury Prize (15,000 euros) and Julien Dossena, winner of the 1,2,3 Award and Special Jury Prize (15,000) were both in attendance at Texas and I got to meet both of them.
We had a randomly good time hanging out, probably because of our similar ages and also being similarly weirded out by our initial immersion into Texan culture both coming from Europe (in fact, it was their first time in the States!). I got to see their work in person as they presented their winning Hyeres collections at the final fashion show at UNT and I was honestly (and if they're reading, I really am being completely frank!) blown away.
Anthony Vaccarello hails from Belgium and graduated with High Distinction from the prestigious school of La Cambre-Mode in Brussels. His award-winning collection for Hyères was named 'I am waiting to recognise what I have forgotten', a quote from the photographer Sarah Moon and was inspired by the fairytale of Ciccolina waiting for her Prince Charming to come, whilst being invaded by her hair. I think the pictures speak for themselves but Anthony's precision and attention to technical accomplishment is very much evident. The couture-like garments utilise materials in an innovative way and have the most incredible synergy with each other. I especially love the way he managed to manipulate body contours. Most of all, there is a very forceful beauty about the pieces that was really quite magnificent to see. Anthony has just begun a position working at Fendi so I wish him the best of luck as I do believe he's quite a talent as well as being a genuinely nice guy, who has admirable sensibilities about fashion.
Julien Dossena is also a La Cambre-Mode student in his final year and comes from Brittany in France. His first collection that scooped two awards at Hyères was inspired by collision between Californian/Hawaiian dream surfwear and Brittany folkloric costume. It's about a girl from Brittany dreaming of surf and sand in California. Julien's collection appealed to me in an entirely different way from Anthony's. It's appeal is born out of whimsy and fun. You remember how I was talking about the people who are meant to be 'crazy colourists'? Well I think Julien is a 'crazy colourist' who gets it just right with his balance of patterns and colours. Multi-coloured as they are, the collection still speaks of fluidity. His points of inspiration are really utilised in an original way too. Julien has got a collection for European retailer 1,2,3 coming out in February as part of the prize he won at Hyeres and he will be working at Chloe as well. He's a fun-loving top dude and if he's reading, I just want to apologise for ruining the end of season 3 of The O.C. for him (hey, how was I supposed to know France is a season behind the UK??)
Please excuse the terrible quality of my backstage pictures of the models' dressing. My camera was seriously playing up that night and of course the blurriness illustrate the general chaos of backstage prior to the show.
It was really interesting meeting two designers with such contrasting styles but with similar passion and drive to make it to the top. Thanks to them, my time in Texas was made even more fun and I sincerely hope great things happen for them!