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Oct 17, 2022
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Hyères International Festival 2022 honours Finnish designer Jenny Hytönen

Translated by
Oct 17, 2022

The 37th edition of the Hyères International Fashion, Fashion Accessories and Photography Festival came to an end on Sunday October 16, closing with the award ceremony at the Villa Noailles. This year the fashion competition highlighted more than ever the attention young designers are paying to ecology with a lot of manual work and research on materials. Each candidate had their own unique approach. But in the end, it was the collection with the strongest visual impact that won the Grand Prix of the Première Vision jury, of which Glenn Martens was the president. The collection by Finnish designer Jenny Hytönen also won the Public Prize - City of Hyères.

Jenny Hytönen, Hyères International Festival winner for the fashion category - ph Dominique Muret

Originally from Helsinki, where she graduated from Aalto University, the 25-year-old designer worked on the contrast between armour and glamour, with leather garments covered in metallic spikes or in transparent mesh decorated with glass beads. In an assertive BDSM spirit, the waistcoats opened up in the back with a set of buckled belts, combined with translucent beaded skirts worn over black leather briefs and hedgehog trousers opened in a half-moon over the buttocks.

While punk is not new, nor is the sexy glitter style, Hytönen's collection was seductive because of its great strength, not only visually but conceptually, managing to perfectly blend these two opposing worlds, as well as its incredible technical mastery. The young woman deftly handles sewing needles as well as pliers and a drill. Indeed, she used tools from a toolbox to make her recycled leather biker jackets and trousers. She drilled holes, in which she inserted large screws, fixed with nuts. She also threaded beads one by one onto her handmade mesh with nylon fishing line.

"It took me two weeks to make the smallest skirt alone, twelve hours a day," says the young designer with a passion for knitwear, who has now moved to Paris, where following an internship she has just been hired by Olivier Theyskens.

The festival, founded and directed by Jean-Pierre Blanc and chaired by Pascale Mussard, also awarded prizes to Valentin Lessner, aged 25, in the Fashion category: the "19M des Métiers d'Art" prize introduced by Chanel in 2019, as well as the 2022 Mercedes-Benz Sustainability Prize. The Munich-born German, a graduate of the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts, has made a name for himself with a dense collection, full of finds and details, mixing streetwear and tailoring.

Lessner, who worked at Vetements last year, plays on different combinations and baggy volumes with looks that seem to have exploded and then been recomposed from all sorts of materials. A multi-layered fashion, with a scarf tied around the head over a series of stacked caps. Hybrid jackets were made from different types of fabric, sometimes decorated with shiny garlands. A white leather trench coat featured all different kinds of pocktes, a jacket was made from soft worsted wool, whereas a neon orange duffel bag was cut from beautiful silk. Other bags, that matched with gloves, are constructed from a metal frame, a reference to family photo frames.

Valentin Lessner presenting his collection - © Étienne Tordoir

The collection draws its inspiration from family memories, the figure of grandparents, as well as from the mountains and nature, with hiking influences, as Valentin Lessner loves to walk. "I worked on the silhouettes. What I love about the process is to start with the idea and develop it with all the technical aspect. I like to work on the construction and the materials to give the shape," he explains.

Furthermore, for the first time this year, the fashion competition was sponsored with a new award dedicated to sustainability, the "Prix l'Atelier des Matières", rewarding one of the ten finalists in this category for the creation of a silhouette made only from materials made available to them by the workshop, created in 2019 by Chanel. The prize was awarded to Sini Saavala, aged 30, from Finland. Saavala graduated from Aalto University in Helsinki; specialises in draping and is particularly interested in the way we consume fashion. For the general competition, she presented a collection of long dresses made from used white cotton T-shirts, bras and panties that she had collected over the past few years.

This year the Fashion Accessories jury was led by Aska Yamashita, director of Atelier Montex, owned by Chanel. The Grand Prize for this category was awarded to Joshua Cannone, aged 23, who won hands down with his strong collection of unusual and sometimes disturbing pieces, bordering on art. Bags in the shape of silicone rats, implanted with human hair, a "Bonhomme" bag in the shape of a pudgy human, a doll proclaiming "I like America, America likes me", a leather bag with a target in its centre, and a black leather body bag covered in fur, which can be thrown over one's back like a furry blanket, creating a Yeti-type silhouette.

Also worth noting is this colossal hobo bag constructed from a single leather panel using a complex folding system. "What I'm passionate about is the research and experimental part, trying to innovate through experimentation. Everything is modelled in 3D. I like this mix between art and function. These are objects that have a function, but I draw them like art", says the designer, whose creations are a reflection on contemporary societies, using the parallels between man and animal.

The "Bonhomme" bag by Joshua Cannone - © Leo d’Oriano

A fan of new technologies, this young French designer, who grew up in the United States and trained in industrial design in New York, moved to Paris to do a master's degree at the IFM. "I create accessories, which have stories. The rat bag, for example, if you put it on a stand, it becomes a sculpture," notes Cannone, who has just started selling this model on his Instagram account.

The Accessories People's Choice Award went to French designer Lola Mossino, aged 24, who trained at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d'Art in Paris, and Martinique's Indra Eudaric, aged 34, a graduate of the École Supérieure d'Art et Design in Saint-Étienne, who is self-taught and launched her own jewellery brand in 2015. The two joined forces to work on a joint project around a collection of subtle, playful, erotically-minded jewellery. They also won the Hermès Fashion Accessories Prize, promoted by the luxury saddlery since 2020, whose theme this year was the belt. They were rewarded for their brown calfskin model nammed "La Cavalière".
For the photography section, the jury chaired by Pierre Debusschere awarded its Grand Prix to Rala Choi from South Korea, who also won the Public Prize. The jury also awarded an honourable mention to the French photographer Adeline Care, while Chiron Duong from Vietenam received the American Vintage Prize.

Overall this 37th edition, marked by the Minister of Culture Rima Abdul-Malak's presence, had a very good outcome, underlining once again the vivacity of young creation in the world, with sustainable development as an absolute priority. Most of the collections were made from upcycled materials or in a way that had the least impact on the planet. For example, Swiss-Chinese designer Louise Leï Wang made a whole collection of jewellery from a simple silver square with a double arc cut-out, which she used as a module by giving it different shapes. Others had created their own materials, such as the French designer Lora Sonney, who managed to transform an old garden hose into a coloured leather-like rubber material to make skirts and trench coats.

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