“Fashion goes out of fashion” says veteran creative director Marc Ascoli.
A jury member for the upcoming Hyères Fashion + Photography Festival, Ascoli is known as the man behind the image of Yohji Yamamoto, Martine Sitbon, Jil Sander for many years.
He knows the times change, and yet the thirst for creativity is never quenched.
Here’s a taste of Hyères.
FILEP MOTWARY/UN NOUVEAU IDEAL: What makes a young designer interesting in your eyes ?
His/her sensibility before anything else, that he/she has something to say. But also the degree of creativity, the ability to show he/she doesn’t fit the mold or follow established models.
A young designer, to be interesting, needs to reflect his era and talk about the times.
MALI/SKATTIE: Once you’ve started working with a brand, what is your degree of involvement and counseling?
It really depends on the intensity of the relationship I share with the person. Today the difficulty is to know which direction a brand wants to go, how to express its singularity.
Marc Ascoli + photographer David Sims for Yohji Yamamoto.
MISHA/TOKYO FASHION DIARIES: Today, it seems essential for a designer to have a public persona. How does that affect you ?
The current situation is ambiguous. Designers are personae, they embody and diffuse the image of the brand. Taking into account the investments made by fashion houses in terms of publicity, designers have become true flag bearers.
But that’s where the error often lies, to hire people gifted in public relations but much less in terms of style.
Today there is a “bottom line” in fashion, people tend to look at things commercially. Does the buzz which personality give off equal the quality of the offering ? The question today is primordial. [In the case of] Sarah Burton for Mc Queen, we don’t see a flamboyant personality, but everyone is floored by her work.
Even though it’s a time of crisis, everything is about competitivity. Considering the number of collections (men’s, women’s, pre-collections), it’s about standing out through quality not only personality.
RENÉ / THE STIMULEYE: What is the role of the stylist in the creation of a fashion image ? How did the evolution of this role impact the role of the artistic/creative director ?
There’s now a lot of confusion between stylists and artistic directors, but I believe the two have very different roles. The artistic director works on the long term image of the brand, its DNA and visual impact, whereas the stylist reflects the brand’s fluctuating image by styling the clothes, whether it’s for ad campaigns or a fashion shows.
Marc Ascoli + photographer Craig McDean for Jil Sander
BRUNO / BRRUN: Does fashion have a political role beyond aesthetic and function ?
Fashion takes place in a different universe. It’s a universe where you’re bringing something else to reality, where there is little concern for politics, because it’s all about creation and individuals.
You can see today that there is a huge gap between fashion and the political reality of our times.
Fashion goes out of fashion; fashion is irrational so it can’t be political.
ANTOINE / THE STIMULEYE: When and how does a creator, singer, artist need to work with an art or creative director ?
An artist always needs an alter ego with whom to exchange ideas, to help write his/her story. It’s not just a matter of positioning. The artistic director has to be sensitive enough to understand the artist’s universe and then catalyze it ; establish an image visually and eventually commercially.
Marc Ascoli + photographer Nick Knight for Martine Sitbon.
What is the last thing which stimulated you ?
Being a very curious person, I am constantly stimulating my creativity through various cultural activities. The exhibit of Madame Grès curated by Olivier Saillard at Musée Bourdelle really seduced me. Everything was in its place, the location, the clothes, the spirit.
I was also very stimulated by the latest Comme des Garçons fashion show. I thought it was majestic.
Can fashion still dazzle us ? To prove that the answer is “yes” for its 2012 edition, the legendary Hyères Fashion & Photography Festival has invited Yohji Yamamoto to preside its fashion jury…
Leather Jacket by Daniel Hurlin, one of the contestants. Photo by René Habermacher.
There is problem in fashion today.
It’s a time of transition, adjusting to the internet, new markets, and the weight of conglomerates.
It’s a time of new opportunities for many.
But it’s also a time where a house like Dior cannot find a replacing designer without causing a game of musical chairs – we are to understand that there are so few established designers out there, that Dior’s next womenswear designer must come from a competing house.
As if there were no young designers up to the job.
As if Galliano himself had had much experience when he started.
The problem is, today, that it’s become increasingly tough for young designers to develop their visual aesthetic independently, starting from scratch.
And if young designers can’t develop their style, be allowed to mature and establish themselves, well, there won’t be any mature designers around when Dior needs one.
The submitted silhouettes of the 10 contestants. Photo by René Habermacher.
Luckily, there is Hyères.
Since 1985, the Hyères Fashion and Photography Festival, located on the Côte d’Azur in the South of France, has promoted the work of young designers by putting them in contact with the industry’s top professionals, organizing for them state-of-the-art fashion shows and drawing an audience of buyers and press from all over the world, giving them the chance to make a first impression.
Hyères has given us Viktor & Rolf, Felipe Oliveira Baptista (Lacoste), Gaspard Yurkievitch, and many others who now run the studios of the biggest houses.
The Hyères 2012 Selection jury.
This Hyères (forgive the pun), Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto has invited an all-star group to join him in the fashion jury: photographer Paolo Roversi, curator Jules Wright, Galliera fashion museum director Olivier Saillard, creative director Marc Ascoli, buyer Alan Bazarian, Hermès art director Pascale Mussard, and i-D magazine’s Terry Jones were all present to go through the dossiers of the applicants.
Jury member Olivier Saillard examining a dossier.
After hours of looking at dossiers and submitted looks, and additional hours of deliberation, the selection jury chose 4 men’s and 6 women’s looks from designers coming not only from traditional Western European countries but also from Australia, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Finland and Estonia.
The designers now have 2 months to complete 6 more looks from their collection(and a special Chloé look) before flying in to Hyères in April and being prepped by fashion director Maïda Gregory for the jury and presentations, fashion shows and showrooms happening over the 3 days of the festival. In addition to a Grand Jury Prize (15 000 Euros by L’Oreal Professionel) and a Première Vision Prize (10 000 euros), they’ll also be competing for a new Chloé prize, with a specially designed look.
Photographer Paolo Roversi saluting us as he leaves the Yohji Yamamoto HQ. Photo by René Habermacher.
Check back with us soon for interviews of the jury members and news about the photo competition as well…