Interview with Igor Dieryck : winner of the 38th Festival d'Hyères

Every year since 1985, Hyères has played host to the Festival de la Mode et de la Photographie.

In the sun-drenched town, the Villa Noailles stands as the beating heart of creativity, combining fashion, photography and festivities. Exhibitions and presentations set the scene for this creative interlude. Harmoniously showcasing photographs, fashion pieces and accessories, the Villa Noailles offered a total immersion into its history.

For Igor Dieryck, a 24-year-old Belgian designer, the Hyères Festival was a remarkable entry into the long line of fashion prize-winners such as Anthony Vaccarello, Victor & Rolf and Felipe Oliveira Baptista. He presented his "Yessir" collection, inspired by his student work as a hotel receptionist. For this collection, he redefined the codes of tailoring, winning three prizes: the Grand Prix du Jury Premiere Vision, the Prix le 19M des Métiers d'Arts and the Prix du Public de la Ville d'Hyères. In his carefully crafted silhouettes, he makes visible the hotel professions, which are all too often made invisible. It was a striking performance that marked the promising debut of this young designer.

You won 3 awards in Hyères. How are you enjoying this victory?

After 10 days, I'm finally starting to enjoy my victory a bit. The moment itself was great and I don't think I'll ever forget it. The rest was pretty intense. Everyone plans at least the next 6 months or the next year in their life. And then, from one day to the next, a lot of new things were added to my plans. At first, I was a bit panicky about how I was going to manage it all. There's a whole mix of media and professional flow that you have to manage while trying to sleep and take time for yourself.

How did your love affair with fashion begin?

I've been drawing since I was a kid. I used to draw anything and everything. I asked to have notebooks in which silhouettes were drawn, and all I did was drawing. Little by little, I spoke to my mother about it and she suggested I take a sewing course. I went to a seamstress, who is a seamstress with whom I work today when I need a little help on some of my pieces. She taught me how to sew. That was my introduction to dressmaking and it was when I went to the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp that I entered the fashion world.

Are there any production methods that you prefer to use for your pieces?

At the moment, we don't have our own brand, but there are certain techniques that come up a lot in my work, such as tailoring. I'm a fairly rational person with a very mathematical side, so the whole technical and construction aspect is something that interests me a lot.

You worked with Chanel and Lemarié on a feather down jacket, what inspired you in this collaboration?

I think it's important to have different layers of understanding. There's always a fairly first-degree aspect, which you see on the catwalk, which you understand straight away. My collection is about my job as a student receptionist. You see the bell-bottom jacket for the bell boy or the dress with an integrated waitress tray, and you immediately understand the link. It's also important that all these things have a second message. When I decided to design this piece, I was working with Lemarié, Chanel's feather maker. I immediately thought of making a piece that evoked an object made of feathers that you can find within a hotel, and so it was quite natural that I turned to the feather duster. I wanted to make a piece that was reminiscent of a feather duster. That's also why the feathers are made of textiles. I thought it was more interesting to suggest a feather using textiles than to suggest a feather using feathers. In the choice of silhouettes and colours, it's about taking this object that's totally invisible and the people who do the maintenance work who are made totally invisible, taking those elements and making them the most visible look in the collection. The most flamboyant or extravagant look. I liked this contrast between the initial inspiration and what I was taking it towards.

This year in Hyères, the younger generation was represented both in the jury and in the nominees. What do you think this reflects?

I think fashion has always liked young people, in a way. When you look at the models, they're very young, sometimes even a little too young. It's something that's unique to fashion and to all entertainment industries, like music for example. I think it's interesting that the Hyères Festival focuses on the younger generation. The festival is a springboard, it really gives incredible opportunities for the winner but also for all the other finalists. Everyone has met some incredible people, and it's great for networking, meeting media professionals and different people. Fashion is such a closed world. It's great, as a young person, to be able to meet the most influential people in Paris all at once. I think there's inevitably a kind of naivety, which is interesting because we're all young and have big dreams. As the juries have said, no collection is perfect, so it's this idea of highlighting the whole process and the genesis of different projects.

You use the codes of uniforms in your collection. What does the uniform represent for you?

The concept of uniform is quite broad. A lot of people wear uniforms without realising it. At the Hermès office, from the outside, people must think that we're wearing a uniform too, because there's a certain look. I think it's like that in a lot of places. In my case, it was the precise uniform of the hotel business. For me, the uniform is something quite broad and it's not all negative. In fashion, it could have a negative connotation, because the idea is to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes a uniform can actually help you to fit in with a group and be part of a certain community. As I said in my presentation, uniforms change the way people perceive us. The saying 'Fake it till you make it' is a bit superficial, but it's the idea of putting on your shell.

You work as a junior designer at Hermès. How has your work for the company influenced your designs?

It's very important for me to keep a certain difference between my personal work and the work I do at Hermès. I learn a lot at Hermès, it's a house with an incredible history. I draw more inspiration from my personal experiences, which is not necessarily what I do at the office. I do things that have nothing to do with Hermès, and yet I think that both in their own ways are totally me, and that's what's interesting.

Which designer inspires you?

There are people who have always inspired me a lot and whose work I love, particularly Raf Simons and Dries Van Noten, I think because I studied in Antwerp and was immersed in the history of Belgian fashion and all that important culture. Their work, their interviews and what I find out about them also influence the way I see things. I wouldn't say that I have one person who influences me, there are lots of things and influences that inspire me.

What are the challenges you face in fashion today?

There are a lot of challenges. It's one of the most polluting industries and at the same time there's this demand to constantly come up with new ideas and new products. There are constantly conflicting messages. We're at a time when fashion is evolving, but I can't say what it's evolving towards. A lot of brands are trying to make their collections more sustainable and, at the same time, social networks are encouraging an increase in the number of catwalk shows and capsule collections. There are a lot of challenges, I'm questioning myself and I see it around me in the industry. It's quite difficult on an individual scale to form an opinion of everything that needs to be done for the future.

Emilie Issart

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