Hyères 2014: Tête à Tête with Stage of the Art
Photo by Filep Motwary.
Kenzine: Could you describe in your own words what Stage of the Art is all about ?
Laurence Alvart: Stage of the Art is a creative company dedicated to musical curation, and what we do is build synergies between music and other domains such as fashion, contemporary art, and cinema.
K: How did the collaboration between Stage of the Art and the Hyères festival start?
L.A.: We have always enjoyed following the progress of the festival at Hyères. Our collaboration started for the 2011 edition, following a delightful meeting with Jean-Pierre Blanc, the founder and director of the festival. Our aim is to bring a little extra something to the festival experience, to provide a sort of musical break between talks, meetings, jury deliberations or fashion shows. We at Stage of the Art are driven by the same passion that is at the heart of the festival at Hyères: we love heading out to discover young talents to nurture and to showcase.
Above: Jaako Eino Kalevi wears the KENZO waves trench; portrait by Giasco Bertoli.
L.A.: We choose our artists by following our intuition; it’s really about the right feeling. We try to unearth emerging talent who we feel are just on the cusp of greatness, working with our partners Red Bull Studios Paris. In the past three years, we are really proud to have presented Connan Mockassin; The Shoes with a surprise appearance by Woodkid – a total unknown at that time!; The Citizens; Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs; Eugene McGuinness, and Perez, whom we discovered in 2012 and now has his own creative residency at the Villa Noailles. We also try to pick artists that the people attending the festival will love and who we believe will bring some magic to the fabulous environment of the Villa Noailles and its gardens. That was exactly what happened this year with our three artists, whom we are very proud of. Chloé Howl illuminated the opening of the festival on the Friday night, Jaako Eino Kalevi gave a magnificent performance in the sun-drenched hanging garden and C.A.R. bewitched the audience on the final evening.
K: The Hyères festival provides a moment of relief for people who work in the creative industries, when they can meet, exchange and converse in a different environment. Would you agree?
L.A.: Yes I would, it’s a place where it’s much easier to meet and to talk to people whom you might never dream of getting hold of in Paris. It’s also an event where the focus is on young talent – the competing designers and photographers- and that offers a different, refreshing kind of perspective. It is this spirit of discovery that makes the festival such a success and it is why so many people like to come back year after year. Everybody is relaxed and open, which offers a lot of opportunity. On a personal level, while we spend a lot of the time preparing the concerts, the festival still brings us new ideas, new projects and new people.
Left: C.A.R. at the Villa Noailles by Filep Motwary.
K: Did you have the opportunity to see the collections of the designers competing for the Grand Prix?
L.A.: Yes, and we fostered our own favourites; our creative crushes were for Yulia Yefimtchuk and Coralie Mirabelle. And the laureate (Kenta Matsushige) was exceptionally talented! Every year we are so impressed by the talent and their work, which is always incredibly accomplished and professional. There were really beautiful collections this year…
K: What did you enjoy the most during the 2014 edition of the festival at Hyères ?
L.A.: I absolutely loved Marc Turlan’s ephemeral exhibition of new works, and of course the KENZO FOREVER, NO? exhibition. I adored the music: the three concerts were very moving for us, and each was very different. We would like to thank KENZO for dressing our beautiful Finish artist Jaakko and his band.
Above: Jean-Pierre Blanc, wearing KENZO, enjoys a concert in the hanging garden of the Villa Noailles. Photo by Filep Motwary.
K: What is the latest thing you have seen, heard, read or felt that inspired or stimulated you ?
L.A.: At Stage of the Art we are fortunate to be inspired daily, but here are our recent favourites:
- The latest album from Damon Albarn, an artist who has always known how to reinvent himself and be absolutely of the moment. His collaborations and projects are always inspiring to us!
- Christopher Wool’s exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York.
- Marc Turlan’s recent works, which were previewed during the 29th International Festival of fashion and photography at Hyères.
- CERVICHE restaurant in London (thanks to Guillaume S. for the recommendation!), and the generally refreshing creative ambiance that one can enjoy in London or New York.
Photographer Filep Motwary was on hand to capture the jury as they met the ten finalists in the fashion competition during the International Festival of fashion and photography at Hyères.
Photo above, from left to right: Jean-Pierre Blanc (Director of the festival at Hyères); Carol Song; Pamela Golbin; Jay Massacret; Chloe Sevigny; Humberto Leon; Jaime Perlman; Carol Lim; Spike Jonze; Eric Wilson and Maida Gregory (Creative director of the fashion shows).
Above, from left to right : Jaime Perlman, Pamela Golbin, Humberto and Carol at the presentation of the ten finalists.
Left: Spike Jonze reads the finalists’ biographies.
Each finalist was allocated a team of models for the weekend, which allowed them to build a rapport with their new 'muses' over the three days. The designers presented their collections and inspirations to the jury and answered questions; later they had the chance to present to the press, festival-goers and the public of Hyères in the fashion show concepted and directed by top casting director Maida Gregory.
Above: Kenta Matsushige’s collection is presented to the jury.
The jury panel with Jean-Pierre Blanc and Maida Gregory.
Yulia Yefimtchuk’s collection is presented to the jury.
Jaime Perlman and Chloé Sevigny.
Coralie Mirabelle’s collection is presented to the jury.
Spike Jonze and Kenta Matsushige in discussion in the designers’ showroom.
KENZINE: Jean-Pierre Blanc invited you to create a photo series in the recently abandoned Villa Romaine, in Hyères. Tell us about your first thoughts on the project.
Charlie Engman: This work occupies a rather different space from my other work. I don’t normally work this way where the project has a very specific narrative and historical aspect, but I was intrigued. When I was invited by the festival to come and check out La Romaine they really gave me carte blanche, saying “you have this house, you can do anything you want even if it’s just using a tiny corner”. I had no obligation to present the house. But it was just so loud, there was so much going on, even without all the furniture and trappings, and so it inevitably became part of the narrative process.
K: La Romaine is an enormous mansion on the hill above Hyères, just like the Villa Noailles. Tell us about your impressions of it?
C.H.: La Romaine was built by an individual who had the intention of erecting the modern Versailles. He precised in his will that is was donated to a charitable foundation who then in turn sold everything they could sell, leaving the shell of the house in a strange state, which is how I found it. All my models are local people from Hyères. There is this very opulent atmosphere within the house, but it has a very outdated quality about it. I suppose the presentation of the fruit in my photographs suggests that too. For me La Romaine was a baroque failure, and there was a reference for me there. I also got the impression that it had been a very weird gay bachelor pad; it has some very sensual Greek motifs – there is an uncomfortable, forced homosexuality about it.
K: What kind of energy is there in La Romaine?
C.H.: I have a very ambivalent relationship with La Romaine. I have to admit I personally found it quite disgusting, and that has positive and negative outcomes for me as a photographer because of course disgusting can be quite exciting. I found the fact that it had been stripped by the foundation, and the fact that the owner had deigned to gift it to the foundation in the first place both quite disturbing. The building itself was in a really bad way; there was mold everywhere and it was really hard to breath in the basement for instance. No one is taking care of this place. It’s unheimlich.
K: Your exhibition is on display at Villa Noailles in this very long and narrow yellow-painted stairwell leading up to the hanging garden. Did the exhibition space inform the way you approached this project?
C.H.: When I approach a show, I usually take quite a formalist approach to the installation. I wouldn't say the exhibition space informed much of the work itself, but when it came to mounting the work, of course the stair's inevitable progression of up and down and the closeness of the left and right walls (and their stucco texture and strange yellow color!) had a huge impact on the mounting of the work. It's very physical and intimate. So I would stand on the step and feel it out: ‘this should actually be printed much smaller, this bigger…this needs to be framed, and this needs some bling… (pointing to a gold chandelier earring attached to a photo). Actually these were left over in my props bucket from the shoot. I thought they went very well with the motif on this door here…(pointing to an image of a door with gold moulding).
K: Are props something you bring from your fashion photography?
C.E.: I don’t have a relationship to photography-as-documentary, because I think that comes with a lot of baggage. Of course you have to deal with reality; it’s an essential component that has to be confronted. For me play is an important thing, and so is engaging the camera as an active participant in the photograph. I am much more interested in directly putting my hand into the image rather than capturing a ‘pure’, unadulterated moment at a distance. So perhaps the bag of props on hand is a good metaphor for my work.
K: What do you like most about the Hyères festival?
C.E.: To me it’s the energy. There’s so much generosity and excitement. Often with these things you hear “carte blanche…” but that offer is always tempered with issues of ego, and of political economics. Here, I was really trusted and given total respect and freedom. The Villa Noailles is just bursting with positivity. There is no ‘no’. Every kind of thought I had was given a consideration. I think how Jean-Pierre Blanc has built up the festival is incredible: the way he has engaged people coming into his orbit, latching onto people who are really trying to communicate something. The generosity and conviction is overwhelming.
KENZINE had the pleasure of interviewing Jean-Pierre Blanc, the charismatic founder and director of the International Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyères, which just wrapped its 29th edition yesterday.
Kenzine: You held the first Hyères festival almost 30 years ago: how did you begin, and why ?
Jean-Pierre Blanc: There were many reasons, and the first one was probably the town: I wanted people to discover Hyères. The second reason was that there had been an international film festival focusing on young talent that was amazing, but it had suddenly stopped running. I think that I had a deep desire to recreate that festival environment in which I had grown up. Then in the 1980s, I discovered fashion and the star designers of that era through magazines. It was all terribly attractive because it was a world that was talked about a lot, and fêted: it was totally glamorous, and totally Parisian. I was 20 years old at the time and studying business. The young designers within my circle of friends had a lot of trouble launching their careers. So I decided to help them by creating an environment in which any young designer who had just finished school could meet more established professionals. That is how the festival started. It was a success from the first edition and everything just took off from there.
K: Is it important for you to have the opportunity to meet people outside Paris, New York or London - cities that are world centres for fashion and photography?
J-P.B.: Indeed it is. And I want to clarify that the festival is not a fashion week. People come to Hyères to discover new things, to share, to discuss and to take pleasure. It is also to some extent a moment for industry professionals to relax, as opposed to fashion week that is a trade event. So relaxing is actually part and parcel of what we offer during the festival. The only people that are not relaxing are the young designers whose career is at stake. Everyone else is here to browse and discover at leisure, and therein lies the difference! I think that the term “relaxing” perfectly encapsulates the spirit of this festival.
K: Why did you create a festival focusing on both fashion and photography simultaneously ? What link do you establish between the two disciplines?
J-P.B.: Fashion photography cannot be dissociated from fashion. At the festival, we want to separate fashion and photography completely. The moment when they join again is when the winner of the photography competition creates the portfolio images for the ten young design finalists the following year. Maybe in the future we might blend the fashion and photography competitions more…
K: This year the jury is incredibly diverse in terms of their fields of expertise. Is this how you see fashion design, as existing within a broader dialogue ?
J-P.B.: In the 1920s and 1930s, fashion designers were artists first and foremost. They had strong opinions on music, literature and art in general. Today it feels like everything needs to be classified in isolation and I can’t get my head around this. With KENZO, you can see how much fun Carol and Humberto are having. They surround themselves with lots of different people and they share and have conversations. That is my point of view on fashion, that is how I envision and appreciate it: as bringing people together. What I like is the idea of community, of doors always open.I think that it is what this year’s festival is all about: the opportunity to mix.
K : Carol and Humberto of KENZO are presidents of this year’s fashion jury. What sort of insight do you think they bring to the fashion competition?
J-P.B.: What I like about them is their fun, happy, enthusiastic, open and generous states of mind. If the designers can realize that you can get to where Carol and Humberto are today while continuing to be “normal” people - open, kind and generous – then that is deeply inspiring and important. I think they have a great way of presenting and representing fashion today.
K: What emerges from conversations with artists around the Villa Noailles today is that the spirit of the Hyères festival is overwhelmingly one of generosity. What’s more, artists feel free here.
J-P.B.: Yes, generosity is something I try to scatter everywhere, and not just in the programming. I think it is important to welcome people, to speak to them and to exchange with them. Our work in the fashion and photography worlds does not fall into the routine of life: everything we do is unusual. You have to keep that in mind and to make sure that the designers feel confident about their creations, that we in the industry are there to support them. That is what matters above all.
Kenta Matsushige from Japan (portrait above) was awarded the Grand Prix of the Jury, which comes with a prize of €15,000. Kenta’s collection displayed exceptional craftsmanship and drew inspiration from his native Japan; both the peaceful beauty of countryside, "hinabi" and the modern urban architecture of Japan, "miyabi". (photos above and below).
Yulia Yefimchuk from Ukraine (portrait below) was given a special mention, as well as the opportunity to have her collection carried in Opening Ceremony stores worldwide for two seasons.
Coralie Mirebelle of France was awarded the ‘Prix Public de la Ville d’Hyères’ by the population of Hyères.
(left: Kenta Matsushige's winning collection)
KENZINE spoke to some of the jury members immediately after the ceremony about their process of deliberation and their experience on the judging panel at Hyères.
Pamela Golbin (Curator at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris)
KENZINE: Pamela, tell us about the deliberations that took place to choose the winner?
Pamela Golbin: It was a really difficult choice, we were really very lucky to have ten very good candidates. Each one had a very different vision and it actually divided us quite a lot ; it made us really consider what the criteria was. Were we judging specifically this collection? Was it about the potential for future collections? And after all that taken into consideration, it was Kenta that made it.
K: What was it you enjoyed the most about the judging opportunity you were afforded at Hyères?
P: Carol and Humberto brought us all together with our totally different visions, and just the opportunity to discuss and share our views was deeply enjoyable. I feel like I have come away from Hyères just as enriched as the young designers. It’s been wonderful.
(right: Coralie Mirabelle's collection won the vote of the public in Hyères)
KENZINE: Yulia Yefimtchuk was given a special mention. Is her's a collection you yourself would see wearing?
CHLOE SEVIGNY : Absolutely! I can’t wait to wear it, in fact I tried some of it on yesterday. Kenta’s collection is also very wearable; I loved his coat with the big sleeves. His attention to detail is incredible and he shows a lot of potential. I’m happy for him.
KENZINE: What was it like being on the jury for the fashion competition?
SPIKE JONZE: Well to be honest it’s not something I know very much about, but I really appreciated the young designers’ imagination, creativity and enthusiasm. Their energy was really contagious and inspiring, and I loved being able to hear their story about how they got here and how they arrived at the inspiration for their collections. Liselore Frowjin with her crazy colours; Kenta’s total precision; Anne Kluytenaar's story about the elegant menswear collection she made for her father… I had the chance to meet her father, who is awesome and he is so, so proud. Her collection looked so cool on the runway – those guys were wearing Chanel-inspired dresses and smoking cigarettes. She pulled it off!
Jay Massacret (Fashion director of V and V man magazines):
KENZINE: Jay, tell us about why you the jury felt that Yulia Yefimtchuk deserved a special mention?
JAY MASSACRET: We thought Yulia really captured the moment of today, so we wanted to recognise that. And we also considered that any girl could wear her collection: Chloe (Sevigny)could wear it, Carol (Song) could wear it, anyone could wear it! And Kenta was just perfection. Everything was so precise and detailed, and also of the moment. He really met all the criteria. It was definitely difficult deliberating, but it was fun.
Jaime Perlman (Creative Director of British Vogue):
KENZINE: Was there an outstanding quality in Kenta’s collection that led you and the jury to choose him as the overall winner?
JAMIE PERLMAN: There was a lot of deliberating; we were all in agreement that there were many strong designers and those strengths lay in different areas . Kenta’s collection was very sophisticated and well-crafted, so we felt he was deserving of the Grand Prix, and that this prize would really create career opportunities for him. With Yulia, we thought her bold and individual style would be the was deserving of a special mention and a commercial opportunity.
KENZINE also had the chance to speak to Yulia Yefimtchuk about her special mention (photos above).
KENZINE: You just received a special mention and the chance to have your collection sold in OC stores for two seasons. How do you feel?
YULIA: I wasn’t expecting such a prize, I am so happy to have such an opportunity because it’s so important to the development of my brand, which I have had since 2011. This collection was all about strength and self-confidence.
K: What are your ambitions for your next collection?
Y: I am going to work very hard! I will try to do my best.
Photos: Etienne Tordoir/CatwalkPictures
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
Recognise the name? That’s because KENZO FOREVER, NO? was one of our slogans from the Autumn/Winter 2014 show. Arranged in themed pairs and animated by a seemingly perpetual rotation, these silhouettes recast the history of KENZO as a living process, a constant and active conversation between past and present.
The KENZO FOREVER, NO? exhibition was created in partnership with the Villa Noailles.
KENZO FOREVER, NO? will be on view at Villa Noailles, Hyères, France until the 25th May 2014.
Video: Gregoire Dyer
Art Direction: Antoine Asseraf
I had already had the pleasure of meeting Steve Hiett several times, on diverse occasions such as the making of a magazine; on a jury panel or a at a vernissage. What had always struck me was his apparent detachment, even if he was perfectly aware of what a « good picture » should be.
The same things struck me while casting an eye over his exhibition set in the Squash Room of the Villa Noailles in Hyères, during this year’s 29th International Fashion and Photography Festival: his pictures seem effortless, yet the framing is always perfect. Whether in his more sociological black and white photography from the 1960s, or his work from the 1980s in all its gaudy colorful glory, these elements of efficiency and composition always reign supreme.
Later, I ran into him on the stairs:
- Steve, did you start as a photographer or as a graphic designer ?
- I studied design and then I was in a band, but I started earning my living as a photographer.
That is so typical of Steve: always doing three things at the same time. I very often think that I would have loved to grow up in the ‘60s. There was more freedom; you could study art and then start something different and move on to another thing, without anybody making a fuss about it. Indeed in the exhibition, the showcases displaying the books, magazines and vinyl covers designed by Steve may offer the key to understanding it all: Steve is an art director who started crafting his own images. That’s why he can get away with being so playful in his framing. Whether he’s behind the camera, or as has been known, in front of the camera letting the models shoot him instead, it’s the work of a skilled artist.
Steve Hiett is more inspired by the outside world than by his own studio. In his pictures, you can see streets, houses and other urban backgrounds that are transformed into another dimension because of a red car or a lost-looking model suddenly appearing in the frame. His use of wide angles transforms each frame into a more cinematic experience.
By the way, the name of the exhibition is « The Song Remains the Same » and, the latest on the street is that Steve has reformed his rock band…
Steve Hiett, 'The Song Remains the Same', on view at the Villa Noailles until the 29th May 2014.
Montée de Noailles
Hyères 2014 - Photography competition finalists
Anna Grzelewska (Poland).
Arnaud Lajeunie (France).
Birthe Piontek (Germany / Canada).
Charlotte Tanguy (France).
Lorenzo Vitturi (Italy / UK).
Marie Rime (Switzerland).
Marleen Sleeuwits (Netherlands).
Osma Harvilahti (Finland).
Virginie Rebetez (Switzerland).
Steve Hiett, photographer, Paris — President of the Jury
Manish Arora, fashion designer, New Dehli / Paris
Stacey Baker, associate photo editor, The New York Times Magazine, New York
Michel Gaubert, sound designer, Paris
Clare vander Meersch, founding memeber of Magenta Fondation, Toronto
Mutsuko Ota, editorial director IMA magazine, Tokyo
Damien Poulain, creative director and publisher, Oodee, London
Cathy Rémy, deputy photography director, Le Monde M, Paris
Brett Rogers, director, The Photographers' Gallery, London
Oliver Sieber, photographer, Düsseldorf
Andreas Wellnitz, visual editor and magazine consultant, Berlin
The first day of the Hyères festival is underway and the sun is shining on the Villa Noailles! Right now, the fashion jury are meeting the ten finalists of the Grand Prix competition.
While the photographers and exhibitors put the finishing touches to their installations, and earlybird festivalgoers take tea in the hanging garden, Carol, Humberto and the eight other members of the fashion jury are currently being presented the collections of the ten fashion finalists.
The jury of the Hyères Fashion Grand Prix is as follows:
Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, KENZO creative directors and Presidents of the jury.
Maurizio Cattelan, artist and founding member of TOILETPAPER, the creative team behind our Autumn/Winter 2013 and Spring/Summer 2014 KENZO campaigns.
Pamela Golbin, general curator, fashion and textile museum Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
Spike Jonze, film director and friend of Carol and Humberto.
Jay Massacret, fashion director of V and Vman magazines.
Jaime Perlman, creative director of British Vogue.
Chloë Sevigny, actress and friend of Carol and Humberto.
Carol Song, head buyer at Opening Ceremony.
Eric Wilson, fashion news director, American InStyle magazine.
You can read more about the ten fashion design finalists here.
After the jury has met each finalist one by one, there will be a runway show of the designers tonight at 9pm in the hangar de la mouture venue.
Stay tuned to KENZINE and the KENZO twitter and instagram accounts for live updates from Hyères throughout the weekend!