Karl Lagerfeld headlines the 30th anniversary of the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography

Karl Lagerfeld headlines the 30th anniversary of the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography
Villa Noailles, nestled above the town of Hyères, hosts one of the world's most exuberant fashion and phorography festivals in April each year in the South of France.
(Image credit: Courtesy of Chanel)

The sleepy town of Hyères in the South of France underwent a high fashion take over this past weekend for the 30th edition of its namesake style and image fair (opens in new tab).

With Karl Lagerfeld charged as the event's creative director and a fashion and photography jury helmed by Chanel's creative studio director Virginie Viard, and image director Eric Pfrunder, the somewhat bohemian affair which champions new creative talent, became a charged design think-tank. 'It's very sympathetic,' explains architect, designer and fashion juror India Mahdavi (opens in new tab) who first visited the event two years ago when she was asked to curate an exhibition space, 'There's a family of people who come back every year.'

'I wanted to create a platform that would foster good relations between professionals and young designers,' explains founder Jean-Pierre Blanc, adding that this year's festival received 400 fashion and 770 photography applications, which were whittled down to 10 by the organisers and each jury at various stages. And while Chanel may have set the tone for this year's high profile celebration, the luxury house did not interfere with the cult festival's indie charm, naïveté or authenticity.

In fact, Lagerfeld's ties to the event relate directly to the festival's spiritual and physical heart - Villa Noailles (opens in new tab). In 1995, the photographer captured the raw beauty of the then dilapidated building, which was designed by Rob Mallet-Stevens in 1923 and inspired by the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements. Originally owned by Viscount Charles de Noailles and his wife Marie-Laure, the couple were serious supporters of the creative disciplines, inviting Man Ray to shoot his 1929 film 'Les Mystères du Château de Dé' on site, while also being patrons of Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau.

'When the building was finished,' continues Blanc of its 1997 restoration, 'we felt that we had lost something with its new perfection after so many years in the destroyed building.'

This year the villa and its grounds (Noailles was president of the French Horticultural Society) hosts a wide range of activities from Lagerfeld's 'Three Worlds' exhibition that includes his 1995 portfolio of the villa, to works by French artist Arnold Goron (opens in new tab) who has collaborated with Isabel Marant on her shop windows for many years. Also on the programme: a roundtable discussion on Instagram, a talk by designer Simon Porte Jacquemus, an exhibition of last year's photography winner Lorenzo Vitturi (opens in new tab), and this year's 10 photography finalists' work.

'The criteria was to give the award to the person who was doing something new, seeing into the future,' explains publisher Gerhard Steidl who sat on the photography jury. 'The idea here at Hyères is to give some food, physically with award money, to one of these young people to build up the artistic sculpture as I see it - to build a lifetime's creative model.'

Tellingly, this year's finalists, nominated by a jury that also included Anne Cartier-Bresson, André Saraiva (opens in new tab) and Sølve Sundsbø, were all art photographers. Netherlandic winner Sjoerd Knibbeler (opens in new tab) took home the euro 15,000 prize for his multi-medium proposal that included a book and film and explored the conceptual notion of shapes that cannot be seen - like the wind.

Also of interest was the realism of Brit Polly Tootal' (opens in new tab)s urban English landscapes of 'in-between' spaces, and Evangelia Kranioti (opens in new tab) who was awarded a 'special prize' from the jury for her nine-year, cinematographic series that told tales of her native Greece and the solitude of its sailors.

Pfrunder summed up the quality of talent on offer: 'Gerhard Steidl is going to make a book with somebody, Jean-Luc Monterosso is making an exhibition… everybody will do something on the side, because it was difficult to say that one is a winner.'

The fashion award, helmed by a jury that included Carine Roitfeld, HRH The Princess of Hanover, designer Anthony Vaccarello and producer Caroline de Maigret, was given to 28-year-old German designer Annelie Schubert. Schubert's tactile, sculptural shapes boldly combined traditional and techno fabrics like tweed and Neoprene. And in addition to the prize money she will also receive tutelage within Chanel's Métiers d'Art.

Dutch designer Wieke Sinnige got the fashion jury's 'special award', while Anna Bornhold won the Chloé Prize for her ombré jumpsuit that was entirely handcrafted. Also of note: menswear designer Sophie Harand (opens in new tab)'s gender neutrality theme, which was on trend with the A/W 2015 runways. 'What I could see with these kids is that it's a lot about texture,' continues Mahdavi. 'In my discipline I really feel that textures are becoming more important as a reaction to this world that we are living in that's so digital. Everything that has to do with your senses is exaggerated. Because of these screens we can work from anywhere in the world and so spaces are becoming hybrid. This hybrid thing is becoming more and more important - seasons are hybrid, even genders are becoming hybrid - we could see it in the collections.'

Not only did the event showcase a new breed of talent, it also continued to lure a pilgrimage of creatives from around the world, enticed by its casual interactions with both the jury members and finalists. 'I spent these last few days chasing the people I was most interested in,' says French-American photographer David Luraschi (opens in new tab). 'The festival is an opportunity for many to gather in a more relaxed environment than a metropolis.'

Luraschi has turned his back on fashion's street style epidemic quite literally… or rather his subjects have on him: 'I enjoy collecting people and their silhouettes,' he explains of his photographs of subjects walking away. 'This is something I practice in Paris where I live. Photographing environments and architecture there is something that has been done a hundred times and hundred years ago by the likes of Eugène Atget. I've always been interested in characters and realised that they are an element, which remains original and inexhaustible.'

However, without doubt, the festival's main event was Karl Lagerfeld's masterclass that touched on everything from his 300,000 strong book collection to his favourite architects of today: 'Tadao Ando and Zaha Hadid,' began the polymath, 'there is nothing more opposite. I wanted to built a house by Tadao Ando and I never got it done because they always thought it looked too much like a temple of a sect. Three times I bought locations and three times they turned it down. My only frustration in life is that I could not build a modern building in France.' Adding, 'It is easier to live in a geometric compilation, it's where my brain works better.'

On the subject of his design process he continues: 'I don't want to be pretentious, but every decision is a refusal. I see something… and electric flash…  and then I'm lucky that I can put it on paper and people can immediately see it and make the dress without asking too many questions. I don't change my mind because before I present an idea I throw 20 into the garbage bin.'

His advice to the festival's young designers having won a similar Woolmark contest in 1954 that spearheaded his own career: 'I believe only in careers built on no rules.'  Adding, 'I hate that idea of "young designers". You are a good or bad designer.' Although he says that they better be able to draw: 'When people present me their books with computer sketches I throw them in their face. I don't even look at them. It all looks the same.'

The fashion designer picked up photography in 'nineteen hundred and eighty seven' as he likes to term years, when 'Eric tried three times, and each time I said "arrgh" and so we rented a camera and I started. Our first picture was Ines de la Fressange. Six months later I was doing editorial. I was always very interested in photography. I collected it but never thought that I could do it.'

And on why photography is important to him he explains (after a swig of Diet Coke), 'It's the only thing that reflects what we did.' Adding, 'My fortune teller told me something very strange, "for you, it really starts when it stops for the others".' And with that the icon is off to the next event socialising into the wee hours with the festival's creatives both 'young' and old.

Hyeres Festival

With Karl Lagerfeld charged as the event's creative director and a fashion and photography jury helmed by Chanel's creative studio director Virginie Viard, and image director Eric Pfrunder, the somewhat bohemian affair, which champions new creative talent, became a charged design think-tank for 2015. 

(Image credit: © Etienne Tordoir / Catwalk Pictures)

In 1995 Lagerfeld captured the raw beauty of the then dilapidated building on film

In 1995 Lagerfeld captured the raw beauty of the then dilapidated building on film. It was designed by Rob Mallet-Stevens in 1923 and was inspired by the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements.

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld)

The property was originally owned by Viscount Charles de Noailles and his wife Marie-Laure (pictured).

The property was originally owned by Viscount Charles de Noailles and his wife Marie-Laure (pictured). The couple were serious supporters of the creative disciplines

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

The pair even invited Man Ray to shoot his 1929 film '

The pair even invited Man Ray to shoot his 1929 film 'Les Mystères du Château de Dé'on site, and were also patrons of Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau. 

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld)

'When the building was finished,' explains founder Jean-Pierre Blanc of its 1997 restoration

'When the building was finished,' explains founder Jean-Pierre Blanc of its 1997 restoration, 'we felt that we had lost something with its new perfection after so many years in the destroyed building'

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

Original features such as the villa's clocks remain and are all controlled by a central system

Original features such as the villa's clocks remain and are all controlled by a central system

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

This year's festival received 400 fashion and 770 photography applications, which were whittled down to 10 by the organisers and each jury at various stages.

This year's festival received 400 fashion and 770 photography applications, which were whittled down to 10 by the organisers and each jury at various stages. And while Chanel may have set the tone for this year's high profile celebration, the luxury house did not in anyway interfere with the festival's charm, naïveté or authenticity. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of Chanel)

This example of Chanel's design innovation is exhibited on top of the villa's former pool

'I wanted to create a platform that would foster good relations between professionals and young designers,' continues Blanc. This example of Chanel's design innovation is exhibited on top of the villa's former pool

(Image credit: Courtesy of Chanel)

Examples of Lagerfeld's photography archive for Chanel are displayed onsite within his exhibition 'Three Worlds'

Examples of Lagerfeld's photography archive for Chanel are displayed onsite within his exhibition 'Three Worlds'

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld)

This year the villa and its grounds hosts a wide range of activities including works by French artist

This year the villa and its grounds hosts a wide range of activities including works by French artist Arnold Goron (pictured)

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld)

Goron has collaborated with Isabel Marant on her shop windows for many years now

Goron has collaborated with Isabel Marant on her shop windows for many years now

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

Also on the programme: an exhibition of last year's photography winner Lorenzo Vitturi

Also on the programme: an exhibition of last year's photography winner Lorenzo Vitturi


(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld)

'The criteria was to give the award to the person who was doing something new, seeing into the future

'The criteria was to give the award to the person who was doing something new, seeing into the future,' explains publisher Gerhard Steidl who sat on the photography jury. 'The idea here at Hyères is to give some food, physically with award money, to one of these young people to build up the artistic sculpture as I see it - to build a lifetime's creative model.' Courtesy of Chanel

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld)

the main event was Karl Lagerfeld's masterclass that touched on everything from his 300,000 strong book collection to his favourite architects of today

However, without doubt, the main event was Karl Lagerfeld's masterclass that touched on everything from his 300,000 strong book collection to his favourite architects of today Tadao Ando and Zaha Hadid... Courtesy of Chanel

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld's)

'I wanted to built a house by Tadao Ando and I never got it done because they always though it looked too much like a temple of a sect,' says Lagerfeld.

'I wanted to built a house by Tadao Ando and I never got it done because they always though it looked too much like a temple of a sect,' says Lagerfeld. 'Three times I bought locations and three times they turned it down. My only frustration in life is that I could not build a modern building in France.' Courtesy of Chanel

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

When people present me their books with computer sketches I throw them in their face

His advice to the festival's young designers having won a similar Woolmark contest in 1954 that spearheaded his own career: 'I believe only in careers built on no rules.'  Adding, 'I hate that idea of "young designers". You are a good or bad designer.' Although you better be able to draw: 'When people present me their books with computer sketches I throw them in their face. I don't even look at them. It all looks the same.' Courtesy of Chanel

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

This year's photography finalists, nominated by a jury that included Anne Cartier-Bresson, André Saraiva and Sølve Sundsbø, were all art photographers.

This year's photography finalists, nominated by a jury that included Anne Cartier-Bresson, André Saraiva and Sølve Sundsbø, were all art photographers. Netherlandic winner Sjoerd Knibbeler took home the euro 15,000 prize for his multi-medium proposal that included a book and film

(Image credit: Sjoerd Knibbeler)

'The winner tries to give shape to what we do not see, like wind,' the jury explained,

'The winner tries to give shape to what we do not see, like wind,' the jury explained, 'and he does it in a way that is both poetic and experimental, almost scientific, sometimes recalling the experiences of Etienne Jules Marey. In the same vein, he gives shape to projects that have never been done, and that he reconstitutes through models made of origami'

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld)

Evangelia Kranioti was awarded a 'special prize' from the jury for her 9-year series

Evangelia Kranioti was awarded a 'special prize' from the jury for her 9-year series: 'Her photographic work is in the cinematographic tradition,' the jury explained. 'It is a long story put into images, that tells of Greece, wandering, the solitude of sailors and their loved ones'

(Image credit: Sjoerd Knibbeler)

Also of interest was the realism of Brit Polly Tootal's urban English landscapes of 'in-between' spaces

Also of interest was the realism of Brit Polly Tootal's urban English landscapes of 'in-between' spaces

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

Pictured: the fashion show's event space, a short drive from villa Noailles.

Pictured: the fashion show's event space, a short drive from villa Noailles. The fashion jury, which included Carine Roitfeld, HRH The Princess of Hanover, designer Anthony Vaccarello and producer Caroline de Maigret, awarded 28-year-old German designer Annelie Schubert the top accolade. Courtesy of Chanel

(Image credit: Annelie Schubert)

Schubert's tactile, sculptural shapes boldly combined traditional and techno fabrics like tweed and Neoprene

Schubert's tactile, sculptural shapes boldly combined traditional and techno fabrics like tweed and Neoprene

(Image credit: press)

And in addition to the prize money she will also receive tutelage within Chanel's Métiers d'Art

And in addition to the prize money she will also receive tutelage within Chanel's Métiers d'Art


(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

Dutch designer Wieke Sinnige collected the fashion jury's 'special award'

Dutch designer Wieke Sinnige collected the fashion jury's 'special award'

(Image credit: Wieke Sinnige )

Menswear designer Sophie Harand's gender neutrality theme was on trend with the A/W 2015 runways

Menswear designer Sophie Harand's gender neutrality theme was on trend with the A/W 2015 runways

(Image credit: Sophie Harand)

Last year's winner Kenta Matsushige returned to showcase his latest collection at the festival

Last year's winner Kenta Matsushige returned to showcase his latest collection at the festival

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld)

'Models backstage' for Wallpaper*

But not only did the event showcase a new breed of talent, it also continued to lure a pilgrimage of creatives from around the world enticed by its casual interactions with both the jury members and finalists. 'I spent these last few days chasing the people I was most interested in,' says French-American photographer David Luraschi of his image 'Models backstage' for Wallpaper* (pictured)

(Image credit: David Luraschi)

Luraschi has turned his back on fashion's street style epidemic quite literally…

Luraschi has turned his back on fashion's street style epidemic quite literally… or rather his subjects have on him: 'Jury member Sébastien Tellier' by David Luraschi

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

'The festival is an opportunity for many to gather in a more relaxed environment than a metropolis

'The festival is an opportunity for many to gather in a more relaxed environment than a metropolis,' he adds. 'Secret Woodkid concert' by David Luraschi

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

'Premiere Vision Grand Jury Prize winner Annelie Schubert' by David Luraschi

'Premiere Vision Grand Jury Prize winner Annelie Schubertby David Luraschi


(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld)

'2013 winner Tiia Siren at the villa' by David Luraschi

'2013 winner Tiia Siren at the villa' by David Luraschi


(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

A kid attending a workshop at the villa' by David Luraschi

'A kid attending a workshop at the villa' by David Luraschi


(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

' 2015 photo laureate Sushant Chhabria sporting his trademark monochrome looks...' by David Luraschi

' 2015 photo laureate Sushant Chhabria sporting his trademark monochrome looks...' by David Luraschi


(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

During the festival programme Chanel reopened its summer residence at the private mansion La Mistralée in Saint-

During the festival programme Chanel reopened its summer residence at the private mansion La Mistralée in Saint-Tropez.

(Image credit: Olivier Saillant)

The ephemeral boutique's opening also marks the start of the Saint-Tropez season.

The ephemeral boutique's opening also marks the start of the Saint-Tropez season. 

(Image credit: Olivier Saillant)

Chanel's base camp for the week: Villa La Romaine, which the house borrowed from the Château de Versaille trust.

Chanel's base camp for the week: Villa La Romaine, which the house borrowed from the Château de Versaille trust. Courtesy of Chanel

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

If these walls could talk: Villa La Romaine

If these walls could talk: Villa La Romaine

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld)

Chanel also transported a little Parisian savoir-faire to the South of France, holding a Lesage workshop at Villa La Romaine

Chanel also transported a little Parisian savoir-faire to the South of France, holding a Lesage workshop at Villa La Romaine

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfeld )

ADDRESS

Villa Noailles (opens in new tab)
Montée Noailles
83400 Hyères

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