Haider Ackermann

MAKING THE CUT: Haider Ackermann, creative director of Berluti, is to preside over the fashion jury of the 33rd edition of the International Festival of Fashion and Photography, set to take place from April 26 to 30 in Hyères, France, WWD has learned exclusively.

Christelle Kocher, artistic director of Maison Lemarié, will head the jury for the festival’s accessories prize, sponsored by Swarovski and now in its second year. Meanwhile, Bettina Rheims will take the lead for photography.

Jean-Pierre Blanc, founder of the festival and director of the storied Villa Noailles, where the event is held, noted that Ackermann previously sat on the jury in 2008.

“He knows the festival very well and what is really nice is picturing how thrilled the young designers will be when they find out he’s president of the jury,” Blanc told WWD.

“I know that he was very impressed with the quality of the applications. Via his resolutely contemporary fashion, Haider Ackermann brings a strong and important international eye to the event, so it’s very important for us,” added Blanc who revealed the 10 finalists for each of the three competitions at a cocktail on Wednesday at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, held to coincide with Paris Couture Week. The fashion finalists include Canada’s Marie-Ève Lecavalier, France’s Ester Mans, Spain’s Ela Fidalgo, and Russia’s Antonia Sedakova.

Ackermann tapped an eclectic group to serve on the fashion jury, including actress Tilda Swinton; jewelry designer Delfina Delettrez; perfumer Ben Gorham; actress and singer Lou Doillon; model-turned-director Farida Khelfa; fashion historian Farid Chenoune; editor Jefferson Hack, and Vanessa Schindler, winner of last year’s Première Vision Grand Prize at the festival.

The designer took to the stage during the cocktail, flanked by Gorham, Doillon, Khelfa and Schindler.

“The festival for me represents the reaching out of the hand to students to encourage them to believe in their dreams,”Ackermann told WWD afterward. “The jury and I are just going to try to support them, to lift them up and make them believe in themselves. I’m very well surrounded by people from different fields, which for me was important — to have somebody from the perfume industry, there’s an actress, a singer, a writer, all the fields connecting together, and we’re going to talk about sensibilities, it’s exciting.”

In the audience, Lacoste’s Felipe Oliveira Baptista, who scooped the festival’s main prize 15 years ago, and presided over the jury in 2013, said the people behind the event are like family to him. In terms of its importance as a platform for young talent, “It’s definitely the most important festival in France, and one of the most important festivals in the world,” he said.

“There’s also its international character, featuring people from all over the world….It’s something that’s growing bigger and better every year.”

Notable participants on the accessories jury include Michèle Lamy, wife and muse of Rick Owens; Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel, cofounders of Mansur Gavriel; jewelry designer Elie Top; stylist Charlotte Stockdale, and Hirofumi Kurino, cofounder and creative director of United Arrows.

The festival has been a launchpad for many fashion designers, including Paco Rabanne’s Julien Dossena, Viktor & Rolf, Christian Wijnants and Anthony Vaccarello.

The lineup of exhibitions at the festival will include works from Ackermann and Kocher; a selection of fashion photographs that Rheims took for Details magazine, and a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Crash magazine.

Berluti is part of luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennesy Louis Vuitton, which is supporting the festival for the 20th consecutive year. The event has a new sponsor this year in Supima, a non-profit organization that promotes U.S.-grown cotton.

Legal firm Deprez Guignot Associés through to the end of 2019 will also offer free legal advice to the finalists on anything related to intellectual property.