Nestled within the Southern edges of the French Riviera, HYÈRES’ 37th International Fashion, Photography and Accessories Festival is back. But this time, with a deeply soulful twist, recounts Chidozie Obasi

France is no stranger to the limelight: boasting a hotbed of talents, art and global cultural underpinnings that speak history to the brim, it comes with no surprise that the country has a profusion of winning cards on its (culture) deck and far beyond. HYÈRES’ 37th International Fashion, Photography and Accessories Festival is one such example: home to one of the most incredible occurrences in the French Riviera and hailed in Villa Noailles each year, the festival continues its international focus in promoting the best students from the world’s leading institutions, acting as an empowering weapon to push designer’s creativity to the the next level. This year incorporated incredible movement direction, too, with performances from Nick Coutsier, the contemporary dancer from Belgium who gave a soul-laced, emotionally-charged spectacle that oozes remarkable sensitivity. Because to create fashion, one needs to probe into the inner depths of our soul while searching for what makes good clothes live. If anything, HYÈRES might not be an established fashion week amid the four in the calendar, however the talents on showcase (huge kudos to the British designer Ifeanyi Okwuadi for the brilliant, yet ever poignant collection as a tribute to the Black Sunday Service) have proven that fledging art can truly make a difference, whether it be through a meticulously-crafted silhouette or a gently-volumised lapel or cut. Truth be told, the designer had major luck at having their work reviewed and critiqued by major industry gatekeepers, such as Diesel’s Glenn Martens, Bottega Veneta’s Mathieu Blazy, Maison Alaia’s Pieter Mulier, i-D’s Alaistar McKimm among many other leaders operating in the creative sector. “It’s a huge honour to continue to continue working with extraordinary talent and students, who are promising designers that I’m sure will venture into major design roles at fashion and luxury companies” opined Aska Yamashita, Creative director of Atelier Montex embroidery, Paris President of the jury and guest of honour at HYÈRES festival. “le19M is incredibly proud to support talent that proves to marvel at any scale, whether big or small.” For the third consecutive year, le19M is a Grand Partner of the International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Accessories in Hyères, standing alongside the House of CHANEL in its commitment to the global creative avant-garde. “le19M symbolises the long history that links CHANEL to the Métiers d’art,” read the notes. “Ever since the acquisition of the Desrues parurier in 1985, CHANEL has been committed to preserving, perpetuating and developing these unique savoir-faire […] This venue gives its name to the le19M Métiers d’art prize, which awards the best collaboration between the ten fashion designers in competition and ten Houses belonging to the c Desrues, les Ateliers de Verneuil-en-Halatte, Lemarié, Maison Michel, Lesage, Goossens, Atelier Montex, Causse, Paloma and Lognon.” Moreover,  Première Vision supported the Grand Prix of the Jury for the 12th consecutive year supporting the finalists in their collection development and production by helping them find the right suppliers in terms of materials, according to their needs. The Grand Prix of the jury Première Vision consists of a grant of 20,000 euros offered by Première Vision. Created in 1973 by some 15 silk industry professionals from Lyon, Première Vision invented a new and unprecedented platform for the creative fashion industry. The idea at its core was to bring together for the first time, in one trade fair, industry professionals from the same sector looking to collaborate, to promote their know-how and to develop their business opportunities, while introducing the first coordinated development of seasonal colour and fabric fashion trends. Over the years, Première Vision adeptly diversified its activities, most notably by regularly integrating new shows in France and abroad, while expanding its areas of expertise and its knowledge of the various fashion industry activity sectors.

In line with its initial commitments and objectives, Première Vision offers through all its events one same approach based on innovation and a constant search for quality of service, to propose a selective and creative offer with high added-value. By bringing together 6 areas of expertise (yarns/fibres, fabrics, leather, design, accessories and components, and fashion manufacturing) around the 4 markets of clothing, leather goods, footwear, and fashion jewellery, Première Vision has made its mark as an international reference in terms of inspiration, creativity, and business, as well as the forecasting and detection of trends that then sweep through the markets a few months later and the decoding of major issues destined to drive change across the entire sector.

Moreover, it offers a high level of visibility during a Première Vision Paris event in February, including a collaborative project with the Métiers d’art, a capsule collection that embodies the Galeries Lafayette’s values of inclusivity and diversity in the fashion world, an allocation of fabrics and dedicated support from CELC to create one or several silhouettes to help the winner of the Grand Prix du Jury Première Vision in the development of the marketing of his future collection. This year’s Grand Prix du Jury Première Vision has been awarded to JENNY HYTÖNEN, with a collection produced through the support of Emmetex, Première Vision Paris. le19M Métiers d’art prize and the Mercedes-Benz Sustainability Prize were awarded to Valentin Lessner, while the L’Atelier des Matiers prize was awarded to Sini Saavala and the Public Prize, City of Hyeres to Jenny Hytonen.

And while these prizes are the designers’ ultimate offering from the Festival, their simmering, soul-busting collections, with a deep meaning that now showcases the undeniable flow and charisma of their craft takes us on their journey of feeling stuck and out of sorts, but eventually coming to own it. “Our hope is that 2023 is going to be a big year for us,” some designers mulled backstage after the show. And just like them, I very much hope the same.