The Chanel-sponsored 30th anniversary edition of the Hyères festival culminated in a 90-minute runway finale (the third show in as many days), a shower of confetti, many rounds of “Happy Birthday,” and tears of joy—as clear a confirmation as any that 2015 was a very good year at the Villa Noailles.
The Première Vision Grand Prize went to the soft-spoken Franco-German designer Annelie Schubert for her collection of versatile, apron-inspired silhouettes. “The apron is really a simple and functional garment, so what was interesting to me was to turn it into something more opulent and elegant,” the designer explained during her showroom presentation. Backstage after the ceremony, she held back tears as fellow competitors crowded in to give her a hug—an unguarded display of camaraderie that showed how close this year’s crop of finalists seems to have become. In addition to the €15,000 that comes with the top prize, Schubert will receive a production budget in the same amount to create pieces in collaboration with Chanel’s specialized Métiers d’Art houses, including Massaro, Maison Michel, Lemarié, and Lesage; a collaboration with Petit Bateau is another of the win’s several showcase opportunities.
“During deliberations, it was clear to all that her work is strong and elegant, the colors and materials are beautiful,” offered Chanel’s creative studio director Virginie Viard, who presided over a fashion jury that included HRH Caroline of Hanover, Sébastien Tellier, Anna Mouglalis, Anthony Vaccarello, Loïc Prigent, Carine Roitfeld, Olivier Zahm, India Mahdavi, Joana Vasconcelos, and Caroline de Maigret. “Each one of them is strong in his or her own way—comparing them is complicated. They all have something [special], and yet you can’t give a prize to everyone,” noted De Maigret. “Annelie has a strong signature, and her technique and finishings were very accomplished.”
German designer Anna Bornhold scooped the €15,000 Chloé prize for her much-noted innovative use of texture, which she created by layering thread scraps over a stiff cotton base on what she termed a “spacesuit” in trompe l’oeil denim. “I called it that because in space you are weightless and this is very light and very free,” she said. Commented Chloé president Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye, “Anna’s look was very easy. She really captured the whole Chloé attitude—plus which she’s got a naturally sunny disposition herself. When I asked her how she could make the look even more perfect, she said all the right things. I think she’s brilliant. We tend to keep in close touch with our winners, and I think she’ll make a great addition to Chloé’s circle.”
The jury added an honorable mention for Dutch designer Wieke Sinnige, who combined silkscreen prints, hand-pleating, embroidery, and subtle transparency in a kaleidoscope-inspired collection called Soft Squares. That prize, a €10,000 production budget with Chanel’s specialty houses, was immediately upped by Vasconcelos, who added in €5,000 in cash through her foundation.
The People’s Choice prize, based on real-time votes, went to Yiyu Chen of Taiwan for a collection titled Humanimal, based on what a post-human natural world—and specifically a horse-centric one—might look like (one dominant: gold chain fringe). And jury members Roitfeld and Zahm gave a special shout-out to Finnish designer Elina Maattanen for her richly textured, colorful, and crystal-sprinkled riffs on the kimono, noting that CR Fashion Book and Purple magazine would be following her closely.
Meanwhile, on the photographers’ side, the Grand Prize of the photography jury went to Sjoerd Knibbeler of the Netherlands, who received a €10,000 grant from Chanel. In another surprise development, Chanel awarded a special €10,000 prize to Greek photographer Evangelia Kranioti for her film about the solitude of sailors and their loved ones. Kranioti also received a €6,000 grant from fashion designer Elie Saab, which includes a three-week artistic residency in Beirut to produce a series about the city.
“J’adore this edition of Hyères,” crowed founder and director Jean-Pierre Blanc as the proceedings wrapped. “It’s all at a very high level, which means that many will be back—and we look forward to supporting them along the way.”
See photos of the contestants and jury in our slideshow above.
—Tina Isaac-Goizé, Style.com