KENZINE: Humberto, Carol, you are presidents of this year’s fashion jury for the Grand Prix of Hyères. What does that mean to you?
Humberto: It’s really exciting, we are here not only representing KENZO but also Opening Ceremony, and it is so exciting to be part of this process: meeting not only all these young designers but young photographers, and being able to have one-on-one interactions with them.
Carol: Being able to hear the stories of these young designers as they present their collections is special, because it is a completely different feeling than discovering a collection by looking through a lookbook or seeing a few isolated pieces.
K: What are you most looking forward to over this weekend in Hyères?
C: So much! We were shown all ten collections by the designers today, being able to work with our jury who we selected is also very exciting, and seeing all the other aspects of the festival like the photography competition and the exhibitions, and of course the opportunity to meet all the people who travel from all over the world to be here.
H: It’s our first time here, along with all our jury members, and we are really enjoying being part of this festival tradition – the Hyères festival that Jean-Pierre Blanc has established over the past 29 years.
K: What advice do you have to give the ten finalists, as well as any other designers out there?
H: I would encourage any young designer to think about the full picture. The design process and the preparation for presenting a collection are incredibly exciting, but they should also consider what is going to happen after that; whether it be pursuing a commercial endeavor, or whether they want to look for a job within another house.
C: I would also advise them to stay informed. There is so much happening around the world, it is important that your story is unique to you. Curiosity really helps you to do that.
K: The jury you have gathered around you is incredibly diverse in terms of their fields of expertise. Is this how you see fashion design, as existing within a broader cultural dialogue?
H: We decided to bring quite an eclectic group to the judging table because we feel that the most interesting thing about fashion is the conversation, it’s about the community we have built around us, and we definitely don’t think that good critique has to come from an exclusively ‘fashion’ perspective. From arts, music, travel, films…there is no limit to the things or the people that inspire us and to be frank, everything we work on is a personal conversation with each other or with somebody we’re working with.
K: Tell us about the KENZO FOREVER, NO? exhibition. Here we can see pairs of archive looks set up opposite looks from your own collections on rotating platforms. From cloud and fish prints, to ribbon work and colour-blocking, these are house codes that were established by Kenzo Takada – are they very important for you?
H: Yes, They are. When Carol and I came to KENZO, we interpreted the house in our own way. We felt that Kenzo made a difference to the world, and this exhibition is really about showing the some of the fundamental elements of the KENZO brand and reflecting them with what they mean to us and to KENZO today.
C: Seeing the two side-by side, it’s also amazing to see how innovative and revolutionary Kenzo Takada was for his time when he was working in the ‘70s and ‘80s. More than anything, setting up the binaries the way we have here is not for the purpose of looking back, but to reinforce the D.N.A. of the house and show how we are constantly looking forward.
H: Innovation and technology is really important in our process. I am always focused on the future and what the future means, and that’s how we are going to take KENZO forward.
KENZO FOREVER, NO? will be open to the public at the Villa Noailles, Hyères until the 29th May.
Montée de Noailles