Vanessa Schindler

MATERIAL GIRL: Vanessa Schindler scooped the Première Vision Grand Prize at the 32nd edition of the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography.

The 29-year-old Swiss designer, who recently completed a master’s degree in fashion at the Geneva University of Art and Design, impressed a jury headed by Maison Schiaparelli style director Bertrand Guyon with her innovative textile research.

The designer also won the event’s Public and City of Hyères award.

Schindler on her neo-chic, cinematic silhouettes combined synthetic, interiors-inspired materials with urethane, a chemical resin that joins fabrics together when it dries, which she used to replace hems on garments and for ornamentation based on wavy, abstract patterns and plant-like motifs.

Key silhouettes in her women’s wear collection — “Urethane Pool, Chapitre 2” — included a synthetic fur coat edged with urethane trims, a lilac dress in fake velour with cape sleeves, and a cotton sweatshirt with organic urethane inserts. The collection’s showpiece was an Elsa Schiaparelli-worthy brown urethane gown worked with 3-D molded shell and garter snake motifs.

Among inspirations, the designer cited the interiors of the recently demolished, spiral-shaped Bavinger House — completed by architect Bruce Goff in Norman, Okla., in the U.S. in 1955, and considered one of the earliest examples of modernist biomimicry — as well as the “chic and mystical spirit” of actress-turned-yoga instructor Yvette Mimieux.

“Her use of materials was quite amazing – materials not typically connected with fashion that she managed to render so poetic, subtle and feminine, and her way of connecting the past and the future,” said Laure Hériard-Dubreuil, founder and director of The Webster, Miami, who was on both the fashion and accessories juries. “I also loved her earrings, with single crystals set in discs of urethane like a diamond in a swimming pool.”

Also on the festival’s fashion jury were fashion editor and consultant Camille Bidault-Waddington, actress Melissa George and jewelry designer Sabine Getty.

Schindler was one of 10 international designers competing for the prize, valued at 15,000 euros, or $16,345 at current exchange rates, a list that was whittled down from around 300 applicants. The designer will also be given access to work with the specialty ateliers that Chanel controls through its Paraffection subsidiary, a prize valued at up to 15,000 euros. Schindler will also receive a 10,000 euro, or $10,900, grant from Petit Bateau and get to produce a capsule that will be manufactured and sold by the brand.

Chloé for its prize awarded a grant of 15,000 euros to German designer Gesine Försterling, while an honorable mention from the jury — and 10,000 euro grant from Maison Schiaparelli — went to Finnish designer Maria Korkeila for her punk-infused men’s collection partly inspired by Seventies Playboy magazines.

Pierre Hardy presided over the event’s inaugural Swarovski Fashion Accessories Grand Prix of the Jury prize which went to footwear designer Marina Chedel. Her wacky, conceptual collection inspired by growing up in the Swiss Alps included a pair of shoes set within wavy wooden blocks echoing the outline of Mont Blanc. The award comes with a 15,000-euro grant from the Austrian crystal giant as well as the opportunity to undertake a project with Chanel’s Maisons d’Art for a value of up to 15,000 euros.

The Public and City of Hyères Award for the fashion accessories category went to French designer Wendy Andreu for her collection of seamless hats and bags wrapped in white cotton cord partially coated with black latex.

Marking 10 years of collaboration with the event, Galeries Lafayette announced one-to-watch French finalist Marine Serre, who works in the design studio at Balenciaga and is a finalist for the LVMH Prize, as its next guest designer, with a limited-edition collection by Serre to be distributed in selected stores from the retailer’s network as well as on its website.

The festival’s fashion and accessories winners will also be exhibited at the Paris sur Mode and Première Classe Tuileries trade shows in September.

Ireland’s Daragh Soden won the Grand Prize of Photography, which includes a 15,000-euro grant from Chanel, with British photographer Tim Walker heading the decision makers. “I’m excited to see what he’ll do in the future,” said British model Edie Campbell who was also on jury duty.

French photographer Nolwenn Brod was awarded the Elie Saab Prize which includes a 6,000-euro grant and a three-week artistic residency in Beirut to produce a series on the city.

Highlights of the festival included workshops with Pigalle’s Stéphane Ashpool as well as calligrapher Nicolas Ouchenir; a round table on fashion tech hosted by IFM professor Lucas Delattre, and dinners hosted by Chloé, Chanel, Petit Bateau and French fashion’s governing body, the Chambre Syndicale.

Due to wrap on Monday, the four-day event, held in the Villa Noailles in the South of France, has been a springboard for designers such as Julien Dossena, Viktor & Rolf’s Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, and Anthony Vaccarello.