discussing the future of fashion and photography with this year's hyères jury
Every year the International Festival of Fashion and Photography of Hyères celebrates the next generation of talent. Ten finalists in each field exhibit their world for an esteemed jury faced with the task of selecting the very best. i-D met with this...
It's your first time in Hyères, what are your initial impressions?
It's great. I didn't know exactly what I was embarking on coming here, but it's enormous, there are people from all over the world. The nominees in photography come from very different backgrounds, which I find super interesting.
You're a fashion designer but you're part of the photography jury…
Yes it's crazy, at the beginning I thought that they had made a mistake and put me on the wrong panel. I'm very impressed by the ability of the nominees to present their works with eloquence. I was never able to put my work into words. It is very difficult for a creative mind to put instinct aside for something more intelligible.
Do you think it's important that the festival celebrates the links between fashion and image?
Yes! And I think that it's the reason why I am not on the fashion jury but the photographic one. I make clothes but an enormous part of my work consists of presenting them to a wide audience. The images participate in the dialogue of fashion; it's a key element. It is a way to express vision, and the photo also allows for questioning reality and bringing design to another dimension.
You are here to support a new generation of creatives. How do you feel about this role?
I was very lucky when I started working in fashion—I was surrounded with support. I saw Nathalie Dufour yesterday, the president of the ANDAM Fashion Award, a prize that I won in 2008. That was an enormous help. These platforms are extraordinary for young creators. They are essential.
What are your hopes for this new generation?
It is difficult when one creates not to get overwhelmed by financial questions. I think that it is important for a young artist to find a good balance between creation and success. It is better to protect pure and honest work rather than to submit to the logics of money, even if that is important. I would recommend that they remain themselves in their creativity. I think that success comes when we remain honest and in sync with our personality. It is easy to get lost and I truly think it is necessary to listen to oneself.
Is this your first time at Hyères?
I've heard a lot about the festival of Hyères, but it's the first time I've been. Julien [Dossena, Creative Director, Paco Rabanne] invited me—we spoke to each other on Instagram to congratulate one another on our respective works. And here I am now, a member of the fashion jury and it's very nice. The city is beautiful and my dog is with me, his name is Perrillo.
Are you happy to be part of the photographic jury?
Yes, and it's a rather difficult exercise. There is so much passion and hope in the eyes of the nominees, so much that I just want to be soft but we have to be tough because there is only one winner in the end. So I have to ask myself the right questions. Certain works can be less interesting than others at first sight, but we have to look further for what could become very resonant in the future. It is not only about design and clothing, it's about vision and how candidates present their work, their personalities, what they want to put forward.
You create magazines and fanzines and have always worked in iconography. Do you think fashion owes something to photography?
Yes, I fell in love with fashion by looking at images in magazines. Clothes are real but images are about imagination and fantasy. They bring fashion to a new dimension, another universe.
What advice would you give to the new generation of artists?
It is necessary to be proud and not to be afraid of trying new things, while remaining honest with yourself. More than being original, you should always create things in your likeness.
Jean Michel Bertin
Tell us about your experience with the festival of Hyères.
This festival is an amazing place to gather, a rendezvous that has always supported new forms of creation and incredible artists from all around the world. I have a lot of love for this festival. It has changed through the years—we used to camp here! But the festival has never lost its friendly spirit, something I have never found in other art festivals. A while ago the photographer Grégoire Alexandre had been selected to exhibit his work in the Villa Noailles. (He asked me to participate in the exhibition, so we worked together on surrealist pieces focusing on the Villa Noailles' architecture. Later on, the director of the festival, Jean-Pierre Blanc, asked me to do an exhibition myself.
What's it like to come back as part of the jury?
I am very honoured. I mean it. I am very interested in the exercise. I take it very seriously, I try to see what the photographers give and want to say, I try and exchange with them.
How are you going to judge the nominees?
I am going to try and trust my feelings. The candidates are all super talented, but I feel like I can't necessarily judge their technical skills. I am going to see what excites me and make my heart skip a beat.
You won the ANDAM Fashion Award last year. Do you think it's important for young creatives to get platforms like that?
Yes! It was my first prize and it helped me a lot. We can't underestimate the importance of such things.
What led you to start designing jewellery?
It came naturally. I started with clothes and I got progressively into jewellery. I like exploring different universes, different mediums. I think that when you like creating they are many ways to explore and develop your skills. At the moment, for example, I am in charge of making accessories and bags for Paco Rabanne.
You are part of the fashion jury with Julien Dossena. You've known each other for a while?
We started our carriers at Balenciaga together. We were still kids and Nicolas Ghesquière was our mentor. Now we're grown up and it feels great to be together again, in such a different context.
Is it important to you that fashion and photography come together in Hyères?
They are so intertwined. It is very clever to celebrate their interaction with a whole festival. More than a simple award festival, Hyères celebrates youth and creation as a whole.
What is your story in connection with Hyères?
I used to create posters for the festival and was in charge of the artistic direction of the fashion shows. That was years ago. Now things have changed, the festival also focuses on photography, which is great! It's spread out all over the city.
What's it like being part of the jury?
It is much more comfortable! I really like it; I discover a lot of things, new talent and vision. There is something very touching about seeing all the candidates presenting their work, their passion.
It is important for you to support young talent?
Yes totally! Who would do it otherwise? It's important to give it a chance and a pedestal.
What is your hope for the new generation of designers?
Brands that deserve them.
What's it like being part of the fashion jury as a musician?
Music, art and fashion can be tackled in a similar way, as they are all creative processes. Art is about digesting references, creating dialogues and observing the world we live in—through different prisms, different mediums. But for me there is something hyper- personal about fashion. It defines one's personality and is a projection to the outside world, whereas music is less obvious. You can dress like a hip-hop fan and listen to Adele in secret.
You've collaborated with a few designers?
Yes. I have made music for some of Julien Dossena's shows at Paco Rabanne. I went to his studio quite a lot. I've also created music for Kenzo. I am starting to get an idea of how collections are made.
How do you translate fashion into music?
I don't think it is about translating. It is about creating a bridge between the clothes and the sound atmosphere they connect in. It is also about supporting a message through sound. I'm not a real expert but I feel like music plays an enormous part in how a collection can be received. How its message will get through. It's got a subliminal power.
What did you think about the different creations you've seen today?
All the candidates come from all across the world. Their backgrounds are very diverse. To be honest, I thought the candidates were going to be slightly more novice. But they all have a very clear vision, a very detailed signature.
Julien wanted a very diverse jury, what do you think about the mixture of people?
I think he did really well. Fashion feeds itself from many different worlds. It's the same in music. And it's nice to get to know the opinion of someone from another world.
What advice would you give to the next era of fashion designers?
They seem to know where they want to go. I would maybe tell them not to compromise too much—or maybe to figure out how and when they are willing to compromise themselves. And to refuse to do so when it's not necessary.
You won an award in Hyères 10 years ago. What's it like to come back today as the president of the jury?
It's unbelievable. I love this festival. It has an admirable aim, so it means a lot for me to come back. It is very nice to work hand in hand with the president of the festival, Jean-Pierre Blanc, and explore our work in a different way. I also really enjoyed taking part in the nominee selection.
You also chose the jury and wanted to surround yourself with very different people…
Fashion can sometimes be a closed circle. I have always been surrounded with very different people—musicians, artists who explore other fields. I have always loved hearing their opinions on fashion. I also feel fashion is now mixing more with different worlds and disciplines. It is something I wanted to embrace and reflect in the way I composed the jury. The festival itself was created in this spirit. It allows for a union of different visions and different mediums to gather and mix.
Has photography be an important part of your career?
Fashion photography is the door through which I got into fashion design. It has always been a very important source of inspiration. A lot of big photographers have inspired my collections actually.
What do you think it's like for those beginning to work in fashion in 2016?
I am very optimistic. I feel like people want to feel like things are changing, they want new brands to appear and propose something new. Designers are having their revenge on marketing. Fashion has sometimes struggled under the pressure of marketing contingencies. But I feel like now new visions are emerging which is very exciting for everybody.
What would you like to say to those starting their careers in fashion right now?
I would tell them to plan for the long-term, to develop a deep and global vision.
Photography Estelle Rancurel
Text Micha Barban-Dangerfield