August 21 2014

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1 posts tagged "Emilie Meldem"

Tim Blanks Reports From Hyères:
Recent Fashion Grads Get “One Last Grasp At The High-Concept Ring”


Never mind their guest lists of the avant-garde’s great, good, and badly behaved, Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles’ villa on a hill above the town of Hyères in the South of France must have seemed to the locals like a bemusing glimpse of the future when it was built in the mid-1920′s. Its blocky modernism is still incredibly striking in the pink-shaded and shuttered context of a typical Riviera town, and you couldn’t wish for a better setting if you were an arts festival looking to stage a competition that celebrates creativity untrammeled by the forces of Mammon. Which, for the fashion end of the festival, translates into exhibitions of work by recent graduates from around Europe, for whom Hyères offers one final attempt to Truly Express Themselves. It might be their one last grasp at the high-concept ring before they’re subjected to the external disciplines of internships, studio assistant positions, and judgmental barb-tongues telling them to get real.

Except the judges at Hyères this year weren’t like that at all. The composition of the jury embraced a universe of sensibilities, from the rigorous thought processes of chair Raf Simons and editrix Jo-Ann Furniss, through the not-much-older-than-the-finalists Christopher Kane, Lazaro Hernandez, and Jack McCollough, to the well-seasoned industry perspectives of Carla Sozzani, Floriane de Saint-Pierre, Cathy Horyn, and Michel Gaubert, with my rosé connoisseurship bringing up the rear. Juries are a challenging proposition. In both numbers and gender equity, we were nowhere near 12 angry men, but the differences of opinion—and the passion with which they were aired—were a surprise, especially given that there was genuine agreement on one thing: This was not a bumper fashion year in Hyères. In the spirit of the place, it was bemusing, and even blocky hyères and thyères. But bumper? No.

The jury saw the finalists’ clothes three ways: as a presentation, on the catwalk, and in a showroom. It was fascinating how our appreciation of the designers ebbed and flowed according to the mode in which we were encountering them. Here, the fabrics ruled, there, the showmanship. The eventual winner was Lea Peckre from France. Her collection, Cemeteries Are Fields of Flowers (above), was polished in its execution, intriguing in its fabrication. I’m a sucker for wood sequins—and she also used GodSpeed You! Black Emperor as her show music, which can’t hurt. The attention to structure and the concierge color palette of Peckre’s clothes also had hints of Jean Paul Gaultier, with whom she interned. That too can’t hurt.

The jury’s honorable mention—and the competition’s most polarizing designer—was Emilie Meldem from Switzerland. Some members of the jury were utterly seduced by her directness, her drollness, and what she referred to as “the minimal eccentricity” of the Swiss aesthetic. What I loved most were the showpieces woven from twigs. (“Half my village helped on the dress,” she said with what might have been a chuckle, but could have been a choke.) Each stick was, according to Meldem, treated like a piece of jewelry. The result was so pagan, so ritualistic, that I felt like I was looking at The Wicker Man à la mode. Which can’t be bad.

One final note: Hyères is open to independent applicants from all over the world, which seems to be a well-kept secret. It doesn’t matter where you live, where you received your fashion education. So one word of advice to fashion students everywhere: Apply! Hyères at this time of year? A small patch of heaven.