Hyères, 1986. Aux origines du Festival de mode

As part of the 38th International Fashion Festival, the villa Noailles is delighted to present a selection of previously unseen archives from the “First young fashion designers show”. This presentation traces the origins of a unique event that has been promoting emerging talents in fashion and accessories for almost forty years, and in photography since 1997.

The adventure began in late 1985. At the Park Hotel in Hyères, Jean-Pierre Blanc gathered his friends Anne-Sophie Dozoul, Valérie Dodard, Roberto Tendel, Caroline Bonnet, Thierry Herbane, Natacha Ciavaldini and Nicole Lacroix to create a major event focusing on the young generation of fashion designers. Driven by the creative emulation of the 1980s, the group wanted to “promote innovative ideas” by bringing together fashion professionals and young talents. The Salon des jeunes créateurs de mode was founded with this in mind. Seeking to promote their project and determined to turn Hyères into an annex of the fashion capital, the young group approached several of the leading fashion designers of that time, including Hubert de Givenchy, Thierry Mugler, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Claude Montana.

Arlette Decock –the founder of the Chacok brand and a key figure in fashion on the French Riviera – presided over the first jury alongside fashion designer Philippe Salvet. They were joined by fashion designer Ray Marjory, Martine Grandval, the president of the national union of industrial designers, and Françoise Chassagnac, the president of Fashion-Group. For four days, Hyères lived to the rhythm of the first Salon. Models crossed the Avenue Gambetta on their way to the fashion shows, finalists posed near the monuments or under the palm trees, arousing curiosity among passers-by. Fuelled by this collective effervescence, and with a disinhibited cheerfulness, the finalists presented their collections under the vaults of the former Anglican church in Hyères, where the fashion shows took place. On the evening of 24 May 1986, Jean-Pascal Dothilien became the first winner in the history of the festival, singled out for the formal simplicity of his collection, the quality of his cuts and the uniqueness of his volumes. Vincent Jerome Smith was awarded second prize, and the Nice duo Jack Gomme won the prize for humour. Widely covered by the press, the success of this first edition was unanimous. Everyone praised the originality of the project, the energy of the team and Jean-Pierre Blanc’s exacting eye.

This selection of archives tells the story of the beginnings of a project that has been constantly evolving and growing for 38 years. It also mirrors a little-known collection of some 20,000 documentary archives collected since 1986. In 1996, the Festival intertwined its destiny with that of the villa Noailles – then undergoing restoration – making it the venue for the fashion shows. In 1990, Jean-Pierre Blanc held a first exhibition at the villa. Since 1993, the Festival has enriched its documentary collections by preserving some of the outfits presented by the winners each year. More than 300 styles have entered the Festival’s archives, making up a highly diverse collection. An open book on young creation, the fashion collections and the archives together relate the beginnings of countless fashion designers and photographers. Kept at the villa Romaine in downtown Hyères, the villa Noailles hopes to ultimately make this unique collection available to researchers, fashion students, fashion designers or specialists, with the aim of enhancing this collection.

In 2003, in agreement with the city of Hyères, the creation of the art centre sealed the alliance between the villa Noailles and the Fashion Festival, becoming an essential milestone in its programme. Two decades later, as it approaches its fortieth anniversary, this Hyères event is the world’s first fashion festival devoted to young designers.

Nino Barattini

Hyères, 1986. Aux origines du Festival de mode - © Villa Noailles Hyères

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