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August 28 2014

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Designer Diary: Steven Tai’s Postcard From Hyères

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Last weekend, London-based designer Steven Tai headed to the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography. As the 2012 winner of the festival’s prestigious Chloé award, the designer has a unique perspective on the fair. Here, he shares the details of his trip exclusively with Style.com.

Steven Tai

Started in 1985 by Jean-Pierre Blanc, the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography has served as a launching pad for new talents for nearly three decades. This year, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the creative directors of Kenzo and founders of Opening Ceremony, were the head of fashion jury for the twenty-ninth edition of the festival. As the winner of the 2012 Chloé award, I had the opportunity to show my Fall ’14 collection as part of The Formers exhibition, where previous winners of the festival present their latest work and touch base with the community that started their careers. This year, Kenta Matsushige took first prize in the fashion category, and I was lucky enough to get a first look at her collection.

Steven Tai

After disembarking the Eurostar, I made a quick pit stop at Totem’s new office in Paris to pick up my collection.

Steven Tai

A skip, a hop, a five-hour train ride, and a cab later, we arrived at the Villa Noailles, where the festival would take place the next day. The sunny weather was the first sign that this would be an amazing year.

Steven Tai

Off to the catwalk space to have a nosy peek at the rehearsal for this year’s finalists. And of course the first thing I did was have a look at the lineup…

Steven Tai

…then it was over to the runway. An amazing giant door that the models walked through reminded me of one of my favorite childhood stories, Alice in Wonderland.

Steven Tai

Back to the hotel and it was time to start some hand-sewing. Well, sort of…

Steven Tai

The next morning, finalists had to present their collections to the jury. You can see the collections lined up in the tent behind all the models in hair and makeup. There was tension—someone’s destiny was at stake. And everyone in attendance was there to support the ten finalists as they pursued their dreams.

Steven Tai

Before settling in to see the finalists’ collections, I wandered around the villa and saw the Kenzo exhibition getting installed. It featured a mixture of vintage and current Kenzo pieces on rotating mannequins.

Steven Tai

After the nerve-racking presentation to the jury, the finalists showed their collections to the press. I had the pleasure of sitting in on the press presentation. It was so interesting to hear other designers’ thought processes.

Steven Tai

After another night of hand-sewing and five coffees, the showroom was ready to go—and so was I!

Steven Tai

Once we finished up at The Formers, all the designers rushed down to Des Pesquiers to see the final catwalk show and the award ceremony.

Steven Tai

Once the show is finished, it is tradition for everyone, from models to designers to assistants, to run out from backstage and celebrate all of their hard work.

Steven Tai

A look from Kenta Matsushige’s winning collection.

Steven Tai

Kenzo party @LeGossip

Steven Tai

A good hangover cure: Look at the photography finalists’ exhibition. This is Dalston Anatomy, the work of Grand Prix prize winner Lorenzo Vitturi.

Steven Tai

And then it was time to go home. See you next Hyères!

Photos: Courtesy of Steven Tai

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