Words by Lisbeth Løvbak Berg
This year, the festival has successfully launched their accessory competition, in collaboration with Swarovski.
As the festival’s founder, Jean-Pierre Blanc, explained during his speech, a tentative was made earlier but was discontinued due to lack of participants. Since the luxury market sells 30% more accessories than clothing, it was only fair that this segment should have their own competition. Chosen to precede the jury, Pierre Hardy, describes the ten finalists as designers who bring new, original and passionate visions of accessories, just what is needed in today’s hyper competitive industry.
Below you can see the official video presenting the work of the ten finalists: Wendy Andreu, Marina Chedel, Alexandre Girard, Christophe Lhote, Emma Montague, Noémie Nivelet, Mayeul Reignault, Thibaut Rodde & Sandrine Pachecus, Eeva Rönkä and Sofya Samareva.
At the accessory exhibition, talking to Noémie Nivelet
Venturing up the hill Monday morning, one could meet with a group of very exhausted accessory designers at Villa Noailles. Curiously, they were the only designers from the competitions that seemed to be present at the villa – although the exhibitions were advertised as open till 4 pm. that day, most people were busy tidying up.
We had talked to Noémie Nivelet the previous day, where she had expressed her joy to be part of the competition. She had expected the other contenders to be very competitive but in the end, they were all very open and friendly and they had made some real connections during the two weeks they had all spent together. The jury had also been very encouraging and had really engaged in discussions.
And her accessory collection ‘Set Up’ certainly is an original one – in fact, she has created a range of accessories for shoes. Based on the idea of personalising shoes, the sets of accessories are all modular to fit every kind of shoe that has laces. They are made of gold plated brass with wood and leather details, as well as Swarovski crystals.
Noémie also has a strong ethos behind her work and a vision of sustainability through complete control and transparency of the processes. For this collection, she worked closely with artisans around Geneva, where she lives (though originally French) and her dream is to work with artisans in different countries for each collection to revive and sustain old, forgotten techniques.
This morning, we had a chat and wished her a safe drive back to Switzerland.
This year’s winners
Marina Chedel, a London College of Fashion graduate, was awarded the Swarovski Accessory Prize, for her shoe collection ‘Over the peak’.
The concept of her poetic collection is inspired by stories from her father, a mountain guide, about the Dahu, a mythic creature, whose left legs were shorter than its right legs and so it was perfectly adapted to the angle of the mountainside. And her shoes certainly evoke the notion of imbalance.
She says herself that her goal was to transmit the feeling of walking in the mountains even though you were walking on a flat surface in the city and inspire to surmount all obstacles. The aesthetics of the shoes represent the encounter between nature, represented by beige and wood and the urban environment, represented by black.
For the shoe ‘Mont Blanc’ she used a 3D image of Mont Blanc to create the shape, that was cut from thin slats of wood and then glued together.
The innovative nature of the technique invented by the Public Prize winner Wendy Andreu, evidently fascinated the public as they voted on her ‘Regen’ collection.
With a background as welder, Wendy’s approach to creating fashion pieces is rather unique. The non-woven fabric of her creations was born out of experimentation with rope and latex. She realised that the two components formed a waterproof fabric and that it could be used for accessories for a rainy day. Creating her pieces directly on metal moulds, she also eliminated the need for stitching. She says herself that the technique decided the shapes rather than an overall design idea.
The video below shows her process.