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EXCLUSIVE: Hyères Festival Taps Nicolas Di Felice as 2024 Fashion Jury President

PARIS — Nicolas Di Felice, artistic director of Courrèges, will head the fashion jury at the 39th edition of the International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Accessories — Hyères.

The festival’s founder Jean-Pierre Blanc, accompanied by actress Audrey Marnay who will serve as MC throughout the year, announced the details Wednesday at the Maison de l’Unesco during Paris Couture Week.

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Lauding Di Felice’s generosity and commitment towards younger generations, Blanc said he had chosen Di Felice because the Belgian designer was “among those who defend fashion with a signature.”

For La Cambre Mode(s) graduate Di Felice, becoming fashion jury president was stepping into very big boots. “It is quite mythical for me and for us in Belgium, Anthony [Vaccarello] won, Helmut [Lang] was president, so was Martin [Margiela].”

Though the program of the edition running Oct. 10 to 13 is still under wraps, the Courrèges creative the Villa Noailles setting was an opportunity to curate a number of activities including exhibition and concerts.

Plus, “given our [Courrèges] DNA, there’s a risk we’ll throw a party,” he joked.

The accessories jury will be headed by the Finnish designer Achilles Ion Gabriel. He is creative director of the Spanish footwear label Camper, and its youthful experimental range Camperlab. He also debuted his eponymous genderless label at Pitti Uomo in January.

The photographer and artist Coco Capitán will lead the photography jury.

Di Felice will work with a number of prople to determine who will succeed the 2023 winner Igor Dieryck.

They include Laura Arguelles, director of the textile department of embroiderer Lesage Paris; actress Hari Nef; artist Marine Brutti, who cofounded the (La)Horde collective and is codirector of Ballet National de Marseille, and stylist and consultant Marie Chaix.

Casting directors Piergiorgio Del Moro and Samuel Ellis are also on the list, as are photographer Carlijn Jacobs; visual artist and stage director Theo Mercier; Interview Magazine’s editor in chief Mel Ottenberg and Julia Sarr-Jamois, fashion director of British Vogue.

Per tradition, Dieryck will also take a seat on the 2024 jury.

Selected for the 2024 the fashion prize are Romain Bichot (Belgium), Dolev Elron (Israel), Logan Goff (U.S.), Gaëlle Halloo Lang (France), Fabian Kis-Juhasz (Hungary), Victor Koehler and Victoria Baia (France), Tal Maslavi (Israel), Julie Mouly-Pommerol (France), Lilian Navarro (France) and Kenshiro Suzuki (Japan).

The 10 finalists will be competing for the Première Vision Grand Prize, the main fashion prize; the 19M Chanel Métiers d’Art prize; the Mercedes-Benz sustainable collection prize, and the “Atelier des Matières” prize introduced in 2022.

Endowments across the different fashion prizes also net winners plenty of materials to create future collections, with selections from the likes of L’Atelier des Matières, the Alliance for European Flax-Linen and Hemp and Supima and even the possibility of creating their own fabric with textile manufacturer Puntoseta. Finalists will also get a year of mentoring by recruitment specialist Stirling International.

The designer who scoops up the top prize will also be invited to create capsules with festival partners Chinese luxury label Icicle and Galeries Lafayette.

Actress and Hyères festival MC Audrey Marnay and festival founder Jean-Pierre Blanc
Actress and Hyères festival MC Audrey Marnay and festival founder Jean-Pierre Blanc.

“I’m always touched by competitions because it’s the moment where careers and destinies can be changed, whoever you are and wherever you come from,” Di Felice said.

The Hyères fashion competition is considered a major launchpad for designers since its creation in 1985, helping raise the profile of talents such as Viktor & Rolf; Vaccarello; Paco Rabanne’s Julien Dossena, and Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh, who design men’s label Botter.

Most recently, its 2022 winner Jenny Hytönen guest-designed the spring 2024 couture collection of AZ Factory.

Di Felice described the class of 2024 as having “a fun and playful side as well as being very ‘image,’ which speaks of the times we’re in.”

Between now and October, he said finalists should perfect cuts, polish confection and pare back any superfluous details “so [the jury] can understand the essence of their message.”

For accessories, Ion Gabriel will be able to count on Rossy de Palma; Irish singer-songwriter Róisín Murphy; architect and Crosby Studios founder Harry Nuriev; stylist and creative consultant Imruh Asha; Alice Bouleau, principal and head of the creative pole at Sterling International; Campers product director Cecilia Llorens Bobadilla; Bottega Veneta’s design director Krzysztof Lukasik; photographer Kito Muñoz; stylist Lorenzo Posocco; journalist Robert Williams, and last year’s grand prize winner Gabrielle Huguenot.

After leather accessories, gloves and costume jewelry, the fifth challenge Hermès is setting for the competing designers is to create a jewelry accessory or leather belt from dormant materials.

Tasked with evaluating the year’s top photographers, Capitán will have alongside her a jury that includes 2023 winner Thaddé Comar; designer Paula Canovas Del Vas, 7L’s director of communication and programming Coralie Gauthier and Simon Baker, director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, among others.

The winner of the top Grand Prix du Jury de la Photographie 7L will get to create a book in collaboration with 7L Editions, Atelier EXB and the Villa Noailles. Chanel is also giving a 20,000-euro purse.

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