PARIS – Natacha Ramsay-Levi, creative director of Chloé, is to preside over the fashion jury of the 34th edition of the International Festival of Fashion and Photography, set to take place from April 25 to 29, WWD has learned.
Jewelry designer Charlotte Chesnais will head the jury for the festival’s accessories prize, sponsored by Swarovski and now in its third year. Meanwhile, Craig McDean will take the lead for photography.
Ramsay-Levi said it would be her first time attending the festival, and she looked forward to establishing a dialogue with the candidates.
“I have no lessons to give. I believe that everyone has their own journey and there are many different ways to create fashion. All I can do is try to encourage the values I believe in, such as sincerity and hard work. In order to go the distance and say something meaningful, you need to work hard and be exacting,” she told WWD.
She picked her jury to represent all the facets of the business that a designer needs to deal with, from retailers and graphic designers to editors and brand ambassadors.
It includes Charlotte Casiraghi; Guillaume Houzé, director of image and patronage of Groupe Galeries Lafayette; Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak of graphic design duo M/M Paris; model and designer Liya Kebede, and stylist Camille Bidault-Waddington.
Rounding out the group are French actresses Sigrid Bouaziz and Ariane Labed; Financial Times correspondent Jo Ellison; Samira Nasr, fashion director of the U.S. edition of Vanity Fair; System magazine editor Alexia Niedzielski; Jojo Qian, fashion director at T Magazine China, and Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh of Dutch duo Botter, winners of last year’s Première Vision Grand Prize at the festival, and the new design duo at Nina Ricci.
Ramsay-Levi noted Chloé has strong ties to the festival, having sponsored a prize for the last eight years that requires candidates to submit a look inspired by the heritage of the French fashion house, known for its boho dresses and men’s wear-inspired coats and pants.
“I think it ties in with the way [Chloé founder] Gaby Aghion worked: She was always bringing in other designers and that’s how Karl Lagerfeld ended up at the house,” she remarked.
Ramsay-Levi brings a wealth of mentoring experience to the task, having spent 15 years working alongside Nicolas Ghesquière, first at Balenciaga, then at Louis Vuitton, before taking the top spot at Chloé in 2017.
“It’s like a condensed version of what I did for a long time and with immense joy up until Louis Vuitton,” she said.
“I had no problem being number two, because a great deal of my satisfaction came from what you can pass on, and putting creative people in the best position imaginable for them to give the best of themselves,” she added. “Being able to head the jury of a festival is the crowning of all that.”
The designer said she looked forward to seeing how much young fashion designers have evolved since she graduated from Studio Berçot in Paris in 2002. “I hope to have some of my convictions challenged,” she said, noting for example that today’s emerging designers share a commitment to sustainability that her generation did not.
In today’s accelerated fashion cycle, the path from winning a prize to heading one’s own brand appears to be growing shorter. Botter and Herrebrugh were named artistic directors for fashion at Nina Ricci in August, mere months after winning Hyères and reaching the final of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers.
Ramsay-Levi said the phenomenon was not entirely new, noting that Stella McCartney was just 24 when she took the reins at Chloé.
“I think it’s a good thing. It energizes me and makes me question myself. Obviously, my path was very different, which is why I have perhaps more classical values of working hard and evolving a message. But I need to learn a more instinctive, fast approach,” she said. “I’m very happy to preside this festival today because I took that path, and I have no certainty that it was better than any other path, on the contrary. I really believe in diverse approaches.”
Founded and headed by Jean-Pierre Blanc, the festival has been a launchpad for many fashion designers, including Paco Rabanne’s Julien Dossena, who worked alongside Ramsay-Levi under Ghesquière, Viktor & Rolf, Christian Wijnants and Anthony Vaccarello.
The accessories jury will feature Clara Cornet, creative and merchandising director of the Galeries Lafayette flagship on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, due to open this year; Patrick Goossens, artistic director of Chanel-owned jeweler Goossens Paris, and French actresses Élodie Bouchez and Marina Foïs.
It will also include Caroline Issa, fashion director of Tank magazine; art director Ezra Petronio; stylist Julia Sarr-Jamois; Aleksandra Woroniecka, fashion director at Vogue Paris; Isabelle Kountoure, fashion content director at Wallpaper magazine, and last year’s winners, Kate Richard, Flora Fixy and Julia Dessirier.