What does temptation mean in the realm of creativity? We put the question to the designers behind three of the 10 fashion labels selected to participate in this year’s Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography
Considered one of the most prestigious competitions for young fashion designers and photographers, the festival – now in its 33rd edition – was held at the end of April in its usual surroundings of the striking modernist Villa Noailles, in Hyères, the south of France. Deciding on the fashion category’s final choice was a jury made up of luminaries including actress Tilda Swinton, jewellery designer Delfina Delettrez and editor Jefferson Hack, and presided over by the celebrated designer Haider Ackermann.
When it came to discussing what temptation means to them in terms of their creative process, the fashion finalists we spoke to unsurprisingly gave answers that were as diverse and unique as their collections as well as their identities as designers.
“Temptation to us is elegance. When we see someone who is very elegant, he/she attracts our attention and this becomes very tempting.”
The menswear brand founded by Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh, Botter was this year’s winner of the Grand Prix at Hyères.
Herrebrugh graduated from AMFI (Amsterdam Fashion Institute) in 2014, while Rushemy graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 2017, having been selected to take part in VFILES Runway 7 and show his collection at New York Fashion Week the year before. Working with his master’s collection, entitled Fish or Fight, which won the Dries Van Noten Award and Ann Demeulemeester Award among others, he and Herrebrugh launched Botter last year.
For this collection, the duo were inspired by their roots – Rushemy and Lisi both have a Caribbean background – and in particular, the local people you see around the islands of the Caribbean, from young people on the brink of adulthood to the fishermen and their working routines. Those young people who move from the Caribbean to Europe in search of a better life are confronted with the vast differences in lifestyle upon their arrival in their new home. Facing a faster, more demanding pace in their new environments as well as money issues, they are forced to be creative: the less money they have, the better they dress. It becomes important for them to show what they possess and thus to show their pride, because pride is really the only thing they have.
The designers have translated all these images and ideas into fabrics and shapes, with lots of layering, piles of colourful caps adorning the models’ heads, garments embellished with different coloured nets, and pieces of plastic bags worn as scarves and necklaces.
The shoe that the duo sent down the runway is our favourite example of how they succeeded to translate all their inspiration into one piece. It’s a hybrid of a classic banker shoe – the type “your grandpa wears to church”, says Botter – and the footwear that represents the youth culture of today: the Nike sneaker.
“Temptation is desire, which can be something positive or negative. It’s when people try hard to get something they really want. On a personal level, temptation is something I can’t have.”
Currently a master’s student at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, Linda Kokkonen showed her BA collection at Hyères. It was one inspired by witchcraft, Victoriana and motorcycling.
Kokkonen has always been interested in spirituality and nature and this is what she wanted to explore with her first collection: she wanted to create something very personal, something that represents who she really is as a designer.
She combined leather with billowing dresses that nod to the Victorian era, as well as mesh, lace and yarn. The intricate mixture of materials and techniques all helped to create the witchy look she had at the forefront of her mind.
Colour was also used in a highly symbolic way: the red represents power, while the black hints at the mourning etiquette of Victorian times, though Kokkonen’s aim was also to present a metaphor for the grief felt about the devastation humans have wreaked on the planet.
For her leather pieces, Kokkonen used vintage jackets, which she altered and embellished, while for her red leather pieces, she sourced her material from the Finnish company Ahlskog, which is known for its ethical stance. “It’s very important for me to know where the leather comes from,” she says.
The beautiful collection is an amazing example of how a conscious design approach is possible in fashion. It’s an approach that all from the new generation of designers should aspire to achieve.
“Temptation to me is obsession, observation and mystery.”
The menswear designer Antonina Sedakova graduated with a BA and MA in fashion design from the Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 2014, before going on to study fashion and textile design at Aalto University in Helsinki. The collection seen at Hyères, called Communication Tube, was the one that featured in Aalto University’s graduation show last year. Sedakova took the term from the cult Soviet film Assa (1987), directed by Sergei Solovyov.
For her collection, Sedakova looked to the youth subcultures of Soviet Russia in the 1980s, especially the musicians, artists and other young creatives she found in the image archive of the American rock singer Joanna Stingray.
However, the main inspiration was Viktor Tsoi, the lead singer of the 1980s Russian rock band Kino, who had a huge impact on generations of young people in the Soviet Union, and whose influence is still felt today. Despite the pressure of the highly ideologised society of Soviet Russia, Tsoi managed to stay true to himself, and it was his belief that you should feel free to be who you want to be that was Sedakova’s motivation with this collection – it’s what she feels fashion should stand for. Every look she created hints at the image of Tsoi, from the heavy materials of the trench coats to the light silk of the dresses, which she chose as a way of communicating the effortlessness that Tsoi represented and “that easy way to look at life”.
The starting point was military clothing. Sedakova used simple, slightly oversized shapes to reference the silhouettes of the 1980s. For the dresses, the inspiration came from the Soviet musicians of that era who wanted to be more bold and daring when on stage but were limited in the choice of clothes and fabrics available, and so would use their mothers’ clothes and fabrics.
The result is a collection that is not just a wonderful homage to Soviet subcultures, but an empowering celebration of individuality and personal style.
Words by Veronika Dorosheva
#Featured Image Dina Simonen wears Linda Kokkonen; photograph by Maria Korkeila
#6 and 8 Spreads from the communication tube research book by Antonia Sedakova
#7 A look backstage fro Antonina Sedakova’s collection: photograph by Marc Medina
# 2 and #3Look backstage from fish or fight by better, and Linda Kokkonen’s show, photographs by Marc Medina
#1 Spread from the communication tube research book by Antonia Sedakova
# 4 Lookbook image of Joni Travis Nurminen wearing Antonina Sedakova, photograph by Antonina Sedakova