What is Hyères?

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This question plagued me for some time this month, and maybe it has done the same for other fashion enthusiasts alike, or perhaps, you’re all looking grievously at your screens right now wondering how could I NOT know of the Festival d’Hyères. Well none the less, I felt it necessary that this article be written to enlighten the rest of us that are still wondering about all the hype.

The Festival International de Mode et de Photographie à Hyères, was founded 28 years ago by Jean-Pierre Blanc, taking place each year in the dreamy seaside town in the South of France. The fashion competition is one of the longest running of its kind, offering a relatively modest sum of €15,000 for its main jury prize in the fashion competition.

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Despite the meagre prize sum, Hyères is known to attract some of the most prominent figures in the fashion industry from around the world to be a part of the competition’s jury, who subsequently decide on the winners of the competition each year. Invited jury members have ranged from fashions current darling Riccardo Tisci, to Raf Simmons and Dries Van Noten. Other prominent figures to appear are Yohji Yamamoto, art director Marc Ascoli and BoF’s editor-in-chief Imran Amed. This year’s winner of the fashion prize was Satu Maaranen, a 28-year-old Finnish designer who impressed the jury both with her bold statements and unique narrative.

Undeterred by the large crowd of prestigious industry heads that the festival attracts, Hyères still faces the challenge of attracting a wider scope of designers to take part in the competition. Currently applicants have come from the Netherlands, Germany, Beligium, France itself and Scandinavia. However young designers from Spain, Italy, the UK and United States have reigned absent at the competition each year.

The festival is sponsored each year by a variety of fashion institutions such as LVMH, Chloé, Galeries Lafayette and Première Vision to mention a few, showing evidence of widespread industry support. With a fashion competition as unique as this, where the focus isn’t on self advertisement of a single hosting brand but rather the designers themselves, its important that more and more designers take part in this great opportunity it offers. Hopefully in the coming years the festival will manage to attract an even larger number of young designers to help further advance one of fashion’s leading gems in talent discovery.

– Written by Creative Director and Editor-in-chief Jonathan Lubala

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