15-11-2023 | By Lucy Rowan

Designers to Watch

Hyères International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Accessories

Nestled to the right of Toulon is the French Riviera’s oldest resort, Hyères. Not only is it a timeless holiday destination boasting luscious vegetation, quaint cobbled streets and a crystal clear coastline, it’s also the idyllic backdrop to the annual International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Accessories – Hyères. Recognised as the oldest festival supporting young fashion designers, the event was founded in 1986 by Jean-Pierre Blanc. Over the years, the festival has evolved to include the works of emerging photographers (1997) and accessory designers (2016).

However, what remains consistent is the housing of the festival in the venerable Villa Noailles, an early modernist creation of French architect Robert Mallet-Stevens. From the 12th until the 15th of October 2023, the thirty-eighth edition was hosted at the iconic location and included a variety of catwalk shows, upcycling workshops, masterclasses and live performances. Whilst the festival may be over, the exhibition will stay open for public viewing until January 2024.

What distinguishes this event from others is the emphasis on providing hands-on help for young designers. “Practical assistance is provided right from the selection stage as well as during a period of two years in various different domains: financing, production, workmanship, materials, production, legal, media, exhibitions, workshops and residencies.” Galeries Lafayette, Hermès and Chanel are just a few of the partners who are involved with the festival. 

For this article, we have curated a list of our four favourite finalists from this year’s show. 

Fashion: Igor Dieryck

 

Petra Fagerstrom

The Mercedes-Benz Sustainability Prize celebrated its third birthday this year. Reflective of the move towards a more sustainable industry driven predominantly by the desire of budding designers, the award was established to push the competition into the future. This year Swedish designer Petra Fagerstrom was awarded the prize for which finalists were challenged to integrate luxury car materials into wearable pieces. A jury favourite, Petra was also selected for the L’Atelier des Matières Prize.

Flowing plissé pieces, bejewelled bonnets and bow detailing were notes to Petra’s grandmother who had a rather peculiar profession as a parachutist in the USSR. Her Parsons Paris BTA collection plays on the proximity of her grandmother’s softness and feminity, as well as her militant work life. Storytelling through clothing, Petra’s designs really came alive on the catwalk, the fabrics taking off just as her grandmother would’ve from the skies.

Her brand, which is currently in the making will continue to place sustainability at the heart of every collection, and we cannot wait to see what is to come next from this promising young designer.

 

Tiago Bessa

Porto-native and Modatex graduate Tiago Bessa showed off their laudable sewing skills with their graduate collection: Hermaphrodite. Focussing on the orchid flower’s form and how it relates to ambiguous genitalia, Hermaphrodite invites us to think about inclusion and gender. How does society shape the idea of gender? And why do we follow those ideas so religiously? Tiago wanted to express their frustration towards the pressure placed on non-binary individuals and the hostility they experienced growing up. 

Choosing delicate fabrics and romantic hues, we follow Tiago on their journey of discovering their femininity and the importance of the women around them who guided their path. “I was raised by my mother and grandmother – a pattern-maker and a seamstress respectively, in their own atelier and spent most of my time surrounded by beautiful gowns and silk mikados.” 

With an internship at Viktor & Rolf already under their belt, we look forward to seeing this designer flourish even more. 

 

Leevi Ikäheimo

Graduating from the Aalto University Of Art, Design & Architecture Helsinki in 2021, Leevi Ikäheimo has since been setting the Finnish fashion world alight. His ability to blend recycled cashmere, 3D knitted nylon monofilament, thermoset polyester and stainless steel with textile techniques is a talent that has not gone unnoticed.

For the festival, he presented his colourful and comic-like collection “NO PAIN NO GLAMOUR”, which plays satirically with social constructs of what the human body is supposed to look like. “With each look resembling a different character or an avatar, the distorted silhouettes and bright colours are there to evoke everyone’s child within – like a bodybuilding rave troll doll on steroids.”

Impassioned to create a more sustainable and inclusive industry, we have no doubt Leevi will continue to defy the laws of knitwear and is on our radar as a designer to watch.

 

Igor Dieryck

The name on everybody’s lips was 24-year-old Igor Dieryck. The Belgian designer and Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts graduate picked up an impressive three prizes over the four days: the Public Prize – City of Hyères, the le19M Métiers d’Art Prize, and the Grand Prix of the Jury Premiere Vision. The festival has been within his sights since a teenager and accordingly, Villa Noailles has played a formative role in how he has carved out his career. A true full circle moment. Since graduating, he has been working as a junior designer for Hermès menswear.

His unisex collection Yessir nods to his experience working as a hotel receptionist. From a bellboy hat and cropped jacket to chic office attire, the collection represents those from all walks of life, demonstrating that whilst a uniform can at first sight be telling, it actually tells us nothing at all about a person. Countering this construct, Igor’s uniforms are full of personality and pizzazz, each outfit and character came alive on the catwalk. 

With a pocket full of prize money and coaching from industry experts, we can’t wait to see what Igor will come up with next. A clear choice for our designers to watch list.

All photos by Liza Prykhodko.