Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Hyères 2009 Teaser

We could have been forgiven for thinking ‘inspirational’ was just an overused buzzword when we set out at Hyères Festival International de Mode et de Photographie. But after three days of superb exhibitions, unbridled creativity and sea air in a sleepy Provence town, it felt like the only word to use. 

Dedicated to unearthing new talent in the realms of fashion design and photography,  Hyères has been gathering momentum for twenty four years, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Blanc. Its nucleus is the Villa Noailles, an early modernist house perched high up in the hills above the town of Hyères where during the festival it hosts exhibitions and installations in the many rooms and terraces.

Ten young photographers and designers set up camp with their portfolios, subject to scrutiny of public and industry figures alike. Tim Walker fronted the photography jury while Kris Van Assche headed an illustrious fashion jury that included Jefferson Hack and Fantastic Man’s Gert Jonkers.

Previous winners of the festivals’ prizes showcased new work, while the likes of photographer  Steven Meisel and fashion imagery pioneer Peter Knapp hosted their own retrospectives. Shuttle buses were on call to whisk punters to the beach where fashion shows were staged daily in a grand marquee. Awards may have been handed out, but anyone will attest to the fact that, at Hyères, it’s the taking part that counts.

Sunday’s downpour may have been the first time the festival has seen rain in its quarter-of-a-century history but it didn’t dampen spirits. Hyères’ energy is one that seeps in and leaves a glow in the cheeks, if not a suntan.

Stay tuned for our Hyères Festival International de Mode et de Photographie video special, with interviews from Diane Pernet, Jefferson Hack and Kris Van Assche, amongst others.

By Imogen Eveson

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