EXCLUSIVE: Louise Trotter to Head Fashion Jury at Hyères Festival

PARIS — Louise Trotter, creative director of Lacoste, is to preside over the fashion jury of the 36th edition of the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography.

The announcement was made in Hyères, signaling the festival’s commitment to staging physical proceedings, despite the coronavirus pandemic, which last year forced it to reschedule the event from April to October, with many key judges logging in digitally due to ongoing travel bans.

A key platform for emerging talents, the festival is scheduled to take place in October again this year. “We hope that we will be in good enough shape to be able to all enjoy this moment in person,” Trotter told WWD.

In keeping with the spirit of the event, which traditionally takes place at the modernist Villa Noailles in the hills above the picturesque southern French town of Hyères, she hopes to foster a sense of togetherness, with a jury that is a mix of emerging talents and established personalities known for fostering young creativity.

“I want to keep it very spirited,” said Trotter, who said it was the first time she has been tasked with heading a fashion jury.

Among the members of her jury are upcycled sneaker designer Helen Kirkum; musician Steve Lacy; artist William Farr, known for his floral installations; stylist Suzanne Koller, and artistic director Ruba Abu-Nimah, recently appointed as executive creative director at Tiffany & Co. 

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“Lacoste has an exhibition space here, and what I plan to do is to hand that exhibition space to my jury, with a program so that it becomes an open space for creativity and for expression,” Trotter explained.

“To support next gen, I think it’s very important to create a community, and I think that was really my approach. You know, the business is changing so much, and I wanted to kind of use this as an opportunity to reach out in a different way,” she added.

The 10 designers she has selected to compete for the main fashion prize are an eclectic bunch, she said.

“What I wanted to look at was really a sense of individuality, a strong sense of expression, a strong, clear voice, and also somebody who was at the point in their career that I thought this was the right time for them,” Trotter said.

Founded and headed by Jean-Pierre Blanc, the festival has been a launchpad for many fashion designers, including Paco Rabanne’s Julien Dossena, Viktor & Rolf, Anthony Vaccarello and most recently Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh, who were named creative directors of Nina Ricci mere months after winning Hyères and reaching the final stage of the LVMH Prize.

Photographer Dominique Isserman will head the jury for the festival’s photography prize, while shoe designer Christian Louboutin will take the lead for the accessories prize.

Louboutin said he whittled down about 80 contenders in accessories to the 10 finalists, highlighting jewelry as a strong and popular category this year. He also cited the importance of eco-friendly – “or at least eco-concerned” – approaches across the board, along with recycling and genderless concepts.

Recycled plastic emerged as a popular material employed across a range of categories, with entrants creating everything from hats and handbags to shoes, jewelry and eyewear.

The designer allowed that evaluating young designers is a difficult, multi-faceted process.

“Creativity is the first thing, but it also needs to work for the fashion industry and with a functionality,” he said in a telephone interview. “I have to like it, but it’s not the only criteria.”

Louboutin said he was struck by the lack of levity in the design concepts. “A lot of the things we saw are not very playful, or joyful,” he said, musing that it could be “a reflection of our times.”

To be sure, Louboutin has been a staunch believer in the importance of accessories, having collaborated with young fashion designers in Paris since the early Nineties, when he did shoes for Josephus Thimister, then the designer at Balenciaga.

“When a young designer does a fashion show, shoes are an element that can lift the quality of the work, or bring it down,” he noted. 

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