Hyères : Meeting with fashion designer Cécile Gray
In a few weeks, the 33rd International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories will open its doors on the heights of Hyères in the Var. Villa Noailles will welcome the ten winners in each category, competing to win the Grand Prize or one of the many other prizes or mentions awarded by the festival partners. Initiated last year, the Fashion Accessories category was created as evidence of an extension of the fashion sphere.
This year it will be chaired by Chistelle Kocher, artistic director of the Maison Lemarié, founder and director of its eponymous brand Koche. Among the designers selected to compete for the Swarovski Fashion Accessories Grand Prix, we will find Cécile Gray and his”jewelry clothes.” Unique and extraordinary creations, surprising, as seductive as the personality of the designer. Cécile Gray has agreed to talk with us about her career and her creation. Interview.
Marlène Pegliasco: Cécile, can you tell us about your career?
Cécile Gray: As a child, I always wanted to be a stylist because I was always very interested in clothing. I learned to sew with my mother first, then I perfected my sewing skills by watching tutorials. Once I got my bachelor’s degree, I went into architecture, which seemed to be a good compromise between reason and the heart. At the same time, I continued sewing, I was enrolled in evening classes at the Paris City Hall which offered training on fashion design, deciphering trends, style… This completed my self-taught training.
And then one day, passion completely caught up with me. I took a year off to do a Master’s there Savard Thistle Workshop. It was an incredible experience to have had the opportunity to go straight into Grade 4! The students are in workshops, each working on their own collections. We develop our materials, and gradually, we build a collection around a theme of our choice, reflecting our personal universe. This training lasted from September 2016 to June 2017 and gave rise to a parade at the end of the year followed by a showroom. Moreover, thanks to this collection, I had the chance to be invited to Vietnam International Fashion Week where I was able to show my collection in Hanoi in November 2017. After that intense year and a few months when I returned to the architecture agency where I worked, I decided to launch myself as a fashion designer.
M.P.: When did you start creating your jewellery clothes?
C.G.: I always liked working with metal but the trigger was the year of creation at the Atelier Chardon Savard. I developed a gold metal mesh material and that’s where this jewel was born that I put on the looks. Although it was an accessory at the time, these”jewellery clothes” were the DNA in my collection that brought a direct identity. The Atelier Chardon Savard year-end fashion show was the right place to show my creations, these very special objects.
M.P.: Tell us about your jewellery, the concept and the design.
C.G.: These jewels are made of steel wires, dyed in gold, and covered with a nylon sheath. Once woven, it gives a material both soft, to be comfortable and move with the person who wears them, and rigid, to work it in volume. The accessory thus created marries the body while following its movements. What is interesting is to study the characteristic of this material which keeps its shape in relation to its force of gravity. As for making it, I take wires that I crimp with metal pliers. The junction of two cables gives a point. Each assembly is made by hand, at home, by my care. After spending seven years in front of a computer for my work as an architect, I wanted to return to manual creation. Thanks to the practice, my gesture is more and more precise and fast. These jewels are just prototypes at the moment. I’d love to develop them later with more valuable materials.
M.P.: Does your training as an architect influence your work as a fashion designer?
C.G: Of course! In addition to many references related to architecture, I apply the design methods learned during my training. Architects make little use of inspirations from fields other than architecture or sociology. It is mainly about studying a context and needs, working with materials, volumes and proportions, and finally, using models and drawings, creating a space that generates emotion. That’s how I made my jewelry clothes. The material made me curious, I experimented my jewels with their environment to see how they react as an architect thinks his building in adequacy with the spaces around. In this collection, I work with building materials such as metal or glass by integrating crystals into the metal mesh (thanks to Swarovski who is a partner of the festival). This conception of the object has been enriched with historical references and it’s something very new for me. Recently, I went to the Louvre and stumbled upon a 4000 year old Egyptian statuette wearing a fishnet of golden pearls on a black bust. The connection to my jewelry was obvious. It was very disturbing. This relationship with the history of art and civilization enriches my inspirations.
M.P: You always sewed clothes but finally, you applied to the International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories of Hyères (FIMPAH) in this last category. For what reasons?
C.G.: I am currently in my final training period at Hermès and this object, which had emerged during my training at the Atelier Chardon Savard, continued to pursue me. I wanted to extend my research around this object and make it a project in its own right. These jewellery clothes really come to accessorize an outfit. In that sense, I thought their place was in the Accessory category of the contest. My jewellery has codes borrowed from clothing. I also play on ladders. The bracelet becomes a sleeve, the necklace becomes a bib… The collection includes pieces over one meter high! Without being massive, it remains fine and precious, which makes them singular.
M.P.: How did you hear about FIMPAH?
C.G.: I think I heard about it for the first time in fashion design evening classes. I was looking for opportunities to make collaborations to enter the fashion world. My reconversion project had a certain cost: becoming a student again, self-financing my project, assuming these choices, undergoing social pressure… I am very happy to have been able to make it a reality. Finally, the Festival de Hyères is very well known, it is one of the major events in this area. I’m living my selection as something incredible, I don’t realize it yet but I’m so happy and so proud to make finalists! I will present seven pieces where I explore the field of jewelry: earrings, sleeves, bibs… Four large pieces and three smaller but I say no more. The jewels will be on display at Villa Noailles until May 27. You’ll have to come and see them!
33rd International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories of Hyères
Montée de Noailles, 83400 Hyères
Festival and contest from 26 to 30 April 2018
Exhibitions from 26 April to 27 May 2018
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