Maison Schiaparelli’s ‘vie en rose’ promotes young talent at the Villa Noailles
Creative Director Bertrand Guyon discusses collaboration and human centered design at the Festival d’Hyères
The Hyères International Fashion and Photography Festival annually awakens and buzzes the small and historic city of Hyères-Les Palmiers in the south of France. This year, the festival chose Parisian couture Maison Schiaparelli as the 2017 Guest of Honour alongside Chanel and the famed embroidery experts at Maison Lesage.
The festival principally serves as a competition of young rising talent in both fashion (clothing, and an additional debut category this year with accessories) and photography. Each chosen group is accompanied and overlooked by a notable list of industry leaders acting as the jury. Alongside the competition, the Villa Noailles, a modern haven of design and innovation designed by French architect Robert Mallet-Stevens, acts as the hub of the festival with art exhibitions, dance and music performances, conferences, and designer showrooms.
A particular highlight was the masterclass interview with Bertrand Guyon, Creative Director of the Maison Schiaparelli, mediated and led by Pierre Joos in a pink carpeted tent inside the majestic gardens of the Villa Noailles hillside.
Bertrand Guyon, having joined the Maison Schiaparelli in 2015 after Givenchy and Christian Lacroix, has revitalised the brand “like a phoenix”, embracing modernity and fresh air. He discusses the tight balance between newness and keeping traditional roots and vision of brand founder Elsa Schiaparelli, the Italian couturier who based her company at Place Vendome, in 1930’s Paris, who even at a time posed competition for Coco Chanel.
Guyon has a preference for “a human approach, more than machines.” Not only is human touch an important aspect and requirement of couturier guidelines and standards, but it also relates to staying relevant and authentic in a time of machines and mass production. As fashion is designed for humans, the business and culture surrounding the company should be too.
Many people believe that couture is something kept for the mega-wealthy, something inaccessible, and my goal is to show that our work is not made just for a museum.
This liaison between fantasy and reality is what is driving Schiaparelli into the future and staying relevant in times of uncertainty. His perspective transcends fashion, as human centered design is a central concern, fascination, and call to action for Innovation Managers.
Another question led to finding inspiration and creativity through collaborations with contemporary artists, such as the praise and criticism around the recent limited Louis Vuitton and Jeff Koons collaboration. Personally, Guyon is against collaborations as he says the brand, in turn, “loses agility and the ability to be spontaneous” with their designs and image over time. When it comes to copies, counterfeits, and even the hot topic of larger brands and plagiarism from young talent in fashion, Guyon suggests that designers should, “take a distance from the archives” and from others, to enhance the creative process.
To reference Kevin Costner’s 1989 film, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come,” and Guyon believes that people make purchases because they love creativity and the creations that he produces with his team. Besides finding designs created especially for the red carpet “affreux” (“horrible”, in French), he suggests that instead, brand and fashion evangelists drive image and global social reputation of this small couture maison, Schiaparelli. The influencer management strategy of high-end luxury brands has been trending in recent years to take the place of traditional advertising, as product placement and channeled social media posts have proven highly effective, especially in Asian cultures. This has been seen widely in luxury beauty and fashion products, and as Innovation Managers these techniques and strategies are applicable to other industries.
M, La Magazine du Monde, a festival partner, puts it best calling young talent the “génération sans frontières”, in English as the “generation without borders”. This cross political and cultural title transcends creativity and even defines and guides us internationally into the future as Innovation Managers.