We already know this is a fashion season with many changes-and the Hyeres International Festival of Fashion and Photography was no exception. Its new corona-affected version, took place at the Villa Noailles, as usual, but with several members of the jury not physically attending it. Nonetheless, with the help of Zoom, both the president of the fashion jury Jonathan Anderson and the president of the photography jury Paolo Roversi as well as Tim Blanks, model Kaia Gerber, Tyler Mitchell were able to exchange insights on artistic freedom, fashion creativity-and vote for the winners.
Did all that influence the perspective of the jury? Unavoidably. This 35th edition of the Hyères Festival was indeed significant in many ways. It showcased the importance of digital presentation over physical events and questioned the very idea of creativity in a time of crisis. The work of the competing designers focused on hard questions and offered solutions based on traditional craftsmanship, personal experiences, and no-limits experimentation.
“What I thought was so amazing was that all the designers are incredibly honest. And the authenticity level in each designer’s work is there—and it’s in them. I quite like that it’s not a total defined thing; it’s more about experimentation. We sometimes in this industry like things to be overnight successes. We want designers to immediately start a business, and we want what’s next. What’s really nice here is that each individual holds his own court, and at the same time, they have ideas that they are willing to experiment with. I think that we should allow that. It shouldn’t be like we want you to start a business tomorrow. I think it should be an experimental moment” , president of the jury J. Anderson told Vogue.
Perhaps nothing showcased this shift in values better than Tom Van der Borght, winner of the Hyeres First Award. The 42-year-old impressed with a menswear collection of intricate, colorful garments blurred the lines between fashion and performance art. Using diverse materials such as ropes, plastic cable ties, and Swarovski crystals he presented a very personal yet very modern new version of haute couture based on craftsmanship. His win told us exactly what we seemed to forget: the idea of the fashion designer focused on a persistent seek for experimentation only to illustrate a very personal point of view. In his view, there is nothing more modern than being unique.
Uniqueness perhaps is the message from Hyeres and the one that could save this season. The industry needs to remember it’s not youth per se that will save the world, is talent, experimentation, and perseverance. A clear point of view- and a dream, this is the luxury of the future. “We need to find a new definition of luxury. We are so used in classic luxury materials such as gold or leather –but I love using materials others don’t find interesting.” Tom Van der Borght told AFP. And we couldn’t agree more.
What do we actually define by a brand’s ethos? And just how important is that in shaping the overall aesthetic and creative practice behind a name? For Cunnington & Sanderson, their ethos is their trademark; their work, a fashion narrative with a signature style, and a fascinating fashion story to tell.
Experimenting with tailoring and volume, the designer duo uses innovating cutting and elaborate draping to form silhouettes that unexpectedly emerge through an endless dialogue with the fabric itself. Their creations are bold, sculptural pieces of extreme craftsmanship; a rare combination of traditional techniques and fashion-forward aesthetic innovation.
For the award-winning brand, the construction process works as part of a very personal fashion narrative waiting to be told. Each individual garment undertakes elaborate draping, sculpting, and is crafted according to its own unique characteristics –characteristics that eventually become its emotional symbolism, its story.
We caught up with John and Matthew to discuss creativity, sustainability, and the emotionally charged vocabulary of their clothes.
You are a design duo, how does this influence the design process
We always base our collections on a narrative. Every garment has its own characteristics and emotive symbolism. At the beginning, the heart of the story is chosen, and then as a design duo, we build a whole world around it. Working in unison we collect objects, depict music, emotions, silhouettes, words, phrases, art, sculpture, symbolisms, and begin sculpting them together. When the narrative is written we transfer this world into our draping and garment design. Excellent communication is key as well as compromise to ensure we are both on the same page with the same vision. This is always achieved because we both involved with the creative directions throughout the whole design process, from the concept, research, development, draping, editing, structure, pattern cutting, finishes, fabric choice, colorways, fittings, production, etc right until the garment is worn by one of our loyal and valued customers. Having two perspectives is really exciting. We both have different ideas but because we design in the same way by draping onto the stand to create new, original, and thought-provoking garments, the results are always complimentary.
You have described your ‘Occupied’ collection as a certain iconography of emotions. Are we afraid to wear our emotions?
We believe that clothes can express how we are feeling or how we want to feel, either subtly or extrovertly. Clothes can make you feel confident, attractive, or more relaxed. They can heighten a mood you are already feeling or they can express the emotion you want to express. We want to inspire people to wear what they want.
Emotions are a key element that we portray in our garment designs, and we hope people make a connection to the personality of their characteristics.
For example, the “Occupied” AW1819 collection focused on breaking the stigma around Mental Health by creating awareness and giving hope and encouragement to others. In our view, the bed can be a solitary sanctuary and become an entire universe. In the collection, pillows, bed linen, and blankets are worn as everyday clothes just as emotions are worn for everyone to see and are no longer hidden. Comfort is found in the non-conformity.
You have been avid advocates of sustainability and ethical fashion – how do you ensure it
We aim to create and design clothes for somebody who can recognize and appreciate craftsmanship, creativity, and originality in clothes. For someone who understands the importance of sustainability. Our brand promotes slow fashion and aims our designs to people who do not follow trends but cherish quality clothes that they make a personal connection with. We design zero waste garments using luxurious & organic fabrics and we use environmentally friendly processes that are transparent. Working closely with traditional Yorkshire Mills such as Abraham Moon & Sons who show a transparent and traceable process where all processes are made in -house and in one location.
Constructing, deconstructing, editing – how do you both know when a garment is finished
We decide a garment is finished by instinct, a moment of feeling like when you get goose pimples, and we can see that the structure holds within all the credentials that inspired its own creation. We imagine the same way a sculpture or a painter knows. It is important not to overwork an idea always aiming to capture the creative process and not to look placed or forced. Allowing the fabric to breathe and drape with gravity capturing movement, shape, shadow, space, volume and to appear as though the fabric is sculpting the garment by itself.
A garment is far more than just something that is worn. It should be cherished. Hours of dedication and passion is put into the creation of one of our designs. For us, each piece is special because if it was not it would not have been created.
There is a certain symbolic element in your garments design. Tell us more about it.
From the Occupied collection, the pillow top was the first design –and it went on to inspire the whole collection. Other garments include the tailored jacket which is worn as a skirt with sleeves as pockets, a laundry dress with elasticated detailing like bedding to capture what once was and a hollow dress that appears detached as an empty unworn dress on the front of the wearer.
The symbolic elements build up the characteristics of the garment. They can be inspired by many things including personal experiences or even historical events. These elements are then expressed through fabric texture, colour, creative pattern cutting, uniques finishes and detailing. Importance is always focussed on fabric placement – how the fabric drapes naturally by its own weight and how the movement just one center-meter can change the whole mood and appearance of a design.
What are your future plans and projects?
Designing a range of zero waste garments that are made in sustainable fabrics. And of course, continue to design and create innovative garments by developing new ways of working with digital technology and sustainable processes.
Cunnington & Sanderson are very proud to have been selected by prestigious buyers and renowned stores for the Not Just A Label x Joor x 100 Project. That means that from now on, we also present our work on the international leading wholesale platform JOOR, where the whole selling process is made online.
Any comments on the current situation? How do you view the Covid19 pandemic?
We hope that after the pandemic of the Covid19 people will give independent fashion designers the credit that they deserve for their craftsmanship. Clothes should be valued and purchased for quality and originality and not for fast fashion that turns into damaging disposable waste.
Image Credits – Photography Rafael Kroetz – Model Zoe Herveva – Make up & Hair Sabine Nania – art direction Cunnington & Sanderson
How does each of us define paradise? Is something individually unique or a wishful thought for an -already- troubled mankind? Anastasia Bull’s own personal paradise is a glittering, shinning opulent wonderland in toxic lilac tones-and a constant source of inspiration to her design work. A 2020 graduate from the Institute Of Fashion Design, Academy Of Arts And Design, FHNW University Of Applied Sciences And Arts in Northwestern Switzerland, Bull is just embarking on a much promising fashion career-and already has the collection to prove it.
Sourcing inspiration from both historical costume design and modern glam scene, her work dives deep into the subconscious to enhance the wearer’s personal strength allowing the true personality to arise. Her approach is highly constructive and involves a very unique ‘conversation’ with the fabric itself while she intuitively drapes the pleats directly into fabric-waiting for the right shape to emerge itself. And while the process might seem heavy and tenuous, the finished work mostly expresses a truly uplifting feeling that celebrates individuality and promotes acceptance, though light shapes and paradisiac, ethereal forms. After all, isn’t paradise a place when everyone exists as the best version of themselves?
We caught up with her during a tumultuous Post-coronavirus world situation to discuss this new reality -and the artistic vision of a blissful utopia that trespasses it all.
How did you start being interested in fashion?
I got interested in fashion when I was about 12 years old. I started watching fashion shows on YouTube and started drawing clothes and little collections. I have always been very fond of beautiful things, colors, and paintings.
Your work plays with shapes and volumes –how important are those elements to you?
I love to play with volume as it can have a very powerful effect on both the wearer and the observer. It can create a strength, an opulence. I believe that clothing has a considerable influence on our society. However, I think that the way fashion is handled in our society is very limited. People are not very experimental. Everything is always the same. There’s little individuality. I wish our society was more accepting. I think it needs more colors, more glitter and yes more volume. It would be like art, like flowers in the gray streets of our world.
What are your key fashion influences?
I like to think of interesting people (fictional and real) to meet up for dinner. For example Fran Fine from the 90s series „The Nanny“, Marie Antoinette, Sherlock Holmes, Rita Hayworth, Anne Boleyn, and Elizabeth Bennet. What would they wear? What would they talk about? What would they eat? How would they influence each other in terms of art, social norms, fashion, or behavior? I always like to think of this as a paradise where time is not really relevant.
Your clothes seem to come out through an elaborate construction process-take us through it.
Usually, I start with styling on a model. Then I collage over the printed pictures. At the same time, I start to illustrate looks and create first patterns. It is always a back and forth until you have a finished look. Sometimes things change significantly at the very last moment. Research and reference images are of course always very important.
When I work with pleated fabric, it is always very intuitive. I drape the pleated pieces onto a model to create a volume. Most of the time I only have a vague image in my head. I pleat my own fabrics. The interesting thing about pleated fabric is that you never know exactly how it will behave, how it will fall, how it can be bent. So it’s always a surprise.
In your Instagram account you make several references on historical costume-and films. How do you use the past to construct the future?
Almost all my references are of historical origin. I love the victorian era, the baroque, and the Renaissance. I love the way volume and materials were handled back then. Everything was much more voluminous and opulent. I love the challenge to create something new inspired by old patterns. Often it is only small nuances that make something contemporary. Colour, material, the right volume in the right place. It’s like a puzzle.
Yes to paradise. What kind of paradise is it?
My paradise is a place full of harmony. It is a utopia. A society with total acceptance. A society that can as well question if necessary. A place where everyone can exist as the best version of themselves. It’s a colorful place. A place where people bathe in opulence.
Any upcoming plans or events you’d like to share?
I will certainly complete a master’s degree in order to further pursue and manifest my utopias and visions. I wish that my clothes will soon be worn by many people and that I have an influence on our society with my ideas, even if it is only a teeny tiny influence. I think we’re all
You can find more about Anastasia Bull on her website: here