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Hyères Festival to Celebrate Villa Noailles Centenary, Founders’ Spirit

PARIS — What would art patrons Marie-Laure and Charles de Noailles do, like, [and/or] wear if they were alive today?

On the occasion of their villa’s 100th anniversary, that was the throughline Jean-Pierre Blanc, director of the Villa Noailles and founder of the annual International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Accessories — Hyères, highlighted Thursday at a press conference unveiling the program of the coming months.

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First up is the “Ressusciter la Rose” opera imagined by Blanc, which will be shown from Sept. 16 to 18 for only three public performances.

But the 38th edition of the festival and its fashion, photography and accessories competition, to be held Oct. 12 to 15 in the southern French city, will of course be the high point of celebrations.

To this day the Villa Noailles is “a place of creation and a place that opens the door to young people,” reminded president Pascale Mussard.

Symbolizing this is an exhibition on the wardrobe of Marie-Laure de Noailles, curated by Emilie Hammen, professor, researcher and head of the “Chanel and le19M Chair in Fashion Savoir-Faire” chair at the IFM school in Paris.

Although no items owned by the art patron, a fashion plate whose style was documented in press clippings throughout her life, survived to this day, Hammen dove into the order books of historic houses such as Chanel, Schiaparelli and Lanvin.

But supplementing these looks, which include three reinterpreted garments done by the Chanel studios, based on documented items owned by the art patron, she also imagined what outfits she could wear from the collections of Viktor & Rolf, Rabanne, Pigalle, Róisín Pierce, Nix Lecourt Mansion or 2023 fashion jury president Charles de Vilmorin, to name but a few.

“If Marie-Laure had still been here and followed the evolution of this contemporary creative scene, who would be dressing her now,” mused the curator, who said these impossible encounters created a journey through fashion creation from the early 20th century to the present day.

As previously reported, de Vilmorin is heading the fashion jury, while London-based jeweler Alan Crocetti will lead the accessories jury. Berlin-based Dominican American photographer and dancer Luis Alberto Rodriguez, a winner at the 32nd edition of the festival, will head the photography one.

The photographer taking home the top photography gong, now known as the Grand Prix du Jury de la Photographie 7L, will be able to count on the support of the Chanel-owned library, with the creation of a book edited by 7L editions as well as the organization of its launch and an exhibition.

For fashion, specialized recruitment firm Sterling International and the European Confederation of Flax and Hemp (CELC) will further its partnership with the festival’s winners, which already includes mentoring for the former and sourcing support and a fabric endowment for the latter.

Artificial intelligence will be at the heart of the roundtables organized for the 22nd edition of the Rencontres Internationales de la Mode, by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, while the three jury presidents will lead the customary masterclasses.

Exhibitions kicking off during the festival and continuing until Jan. 14, 2024, will include the collections of this year’s finalists, the collaborations of the 2022 winners with the 19M specialized crafts ateliers as well as a showcase of the outfits imagined by Stéphane Ashpool for the French Olympic and Paralympic teams taking part in the 2024 games.

Other highlights of the four-day event will be the premiere of a 52-minute documentary about Marie-Laure de Noailles by filmmaker Karim Zeriahen, blending animation, archival materials and newly written narrative elements to create a portrait of the art patron.

The final novel written by de Noailles, titled “La Chambre des Écureuils,” will be released on the first day of the festival.

Reedited in collaboration between 7L editions and the Seghers publishing house, the limited-edition volume will come with an engraving by Paris-based visual artist Ronan Bouroullec and an introduction by author Dominique Bona, who is a member of the Académie Française, the main literary council that oversees the French language.

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