Up in the Hyères

A quiet sea­side town on France’s Côte d’Azur comes to life dur­ing an in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised fash­ion de­sign com­pe­ti­tion. By Zara Wong.

VOGUE Australia - - Singular Style -

Cob­bled path­ways bor­dered with sand­stone walls lead the way to Villa Noailles, a name so vowel-rid­den that non-French-speak­ers say it with a lilt­ing mur­mur. The ‘villa’ is a geo­met­ric cas­tle ris­ing out from the hill­side, the Cu­bist res­i­dence of 1920s art pa­trons Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, in Hyères, south­east­ern France. The build­ing is a cen­tury old but the sight of it still in­spires a fris­son of awe.

Vogue is here for the Hyères In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val of Fash­ion and Pho­tog­ra­phy, a hive of young cre­ators who com­pete in the renowned fash­ion de­sign com­pe­ti­tion that has pre­vi­ously awarded Vik­tor Horsting and Rolf Sno­eren, Julien Dossena (now of Paco Ra­banne) and Anthony Vac­carello. It con­tin­ues on from the villa’s fan­tas­ti­cally artis­tic bo­hemian ori­gins: the de Noailles com­mis­sioned works from artists such as Joan Miró, and en­ter­tained them as friends, too. The villa it­self has ap­peared in the Sal­vador Dalì film L’Âge d’Or, and Man Ray’s sur­re­al­ist film Les Mys­tères du Château

du Dé was filmed here. In 1995, Chanel’s Karl Lager­feld cu­rated the fes­ti­val’s pro­gram and pho­tographed the house be­fore its restora­tion: Chanel con­tin­ues its re­la­tion­ship with the fes­ti­val by of­fer­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Lesage em­broi­der­ers, from its Metiers d’Arts sta­ble of spe­cial­ist ate­liers, to the de­sign com­pe­ti­tion win­ners.

“It’s super-chic,” pro­claims French writer and pro­fes­sional In­sta­gram­mer Sophie Fon­tanel, look­ing out at the villa’s rooftop gar­den at Hyères and the coast­line. “This house, the am­bi­ence, the scenery, the de­sign­ers here: it’s like a full-course meal.” French-born Laure Héri­ard Dubreuil, of lux­ury Miami re­tailer The Web­ster, also mused on quintessen­tially French items not avail­able to her in her base of New York. “Ron­dini san­dals!” she ex­claims to me on what she’s on the look-out for here on the Côte d’Azur. “I can’t get enough of them! I asked if I could stock them, but they said no, be­cause they want to fo­cus on their own store and ar­ti­san work­shops. I think that’s a good thing.”

Re­ver­ber­at­ing through the spring­time gai­ety of the Hyères Fes­ti­val is the re­al­ity of the im­pend­ing French na­tional elec­tions, less than a fort­night away. A shud­der of an­tic­i­pa­tion un­der­lies the ten­sion in the air. Jean-Pierre Blanc, the founder of the Hyères Fes­ti­val, launches the event with an im­pas­sioned speech about the need to vote, to a cheer­ing crowd. “The world is chang­ing a lot,” tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist-cum-cash­mere de­signer Alexan­dra Golo­vanoff says qui­etly. “We are fright­ened of

“It’s su­per­chic. This house, the am­bi­ence, the scenery, the de­sign­ers here: it’s like a full­course meal” – pro­fes­sional In­sta­gram­mer Sophie Fon­tanel

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