EXCLUSIVE: AZ Factory Taps Hyères Winner for Couture Showing

PARIS Jenny Hytönen, who took home the top prize at the Hyères festival in 2022, has been tapped to design AZ Factory‘s next couture project, WWD has learned.

The Finnish designer is to present a 10-piece collection during Paris Couture Week, scheduled for Jan. 22 to 25 in the French capital.

“I was very seduced by her personality because she has a very nice combination of shyness and a daring attitude at the same time,” said Mauro Grimaldi, an executive at Compagnie Financière Richemont, which in 2019 forged a venture with the late Alber Elbaz to create a newfangled fashion house turning out “smart fashion that cares.” Following Elbaz’s untimely death in 2021, the brand pivoted to a platform for collaborations with guest creatives, or “amigos.”

Grimaldi also lauded Hytönen’s painstaking techniques across leather, embroideries and high-tech elements.

At the 37th edition of the Hyères International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories, Hytönen described herself as “loving knitwear and BDSM.” She capped off her runway show with a cyborg bride wearing a veil that incorporated 25,000 glass beads, and an LED bodysuit with a heart sensor that materialized the wearer’s heartbeat with pulsating lights.

Jenny Hytönen Hyères Collection

The collection Jenny Hytönen presented at the 2022 Hyères festival.

Arnel Ian Dela Gente/Courtesy of Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography

The Paris-based designer graduated from Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in 2021, after which she worked as a knitwear designer at Olivier Theyskens.

Hytönen is the fourth Gen Z fashion newcomer invited to take a stab at couture for AZ Factory and introduce the rarified pursuit to a generation obsessed with limited-edition and customized products, yet remote from the rituals of painstakingly made garments requiring multiple fittings, Grimaldi said.

“We think it’s a nice way to support young designers, create a dialogue with that generation, and at the same time pay homage to Alber and his fascination with the atelier,” said Grimaldi, a strategic adviser to Philippe Fortunato, chief executive officer of fashion and accessories maisons at Richemont.

He noted guest couturiers are invited to create couture or one-of-a-kind ranges without any commercial targets.

“It’s really about experimentation, about giving them voice,” Grimaldi said. “We consider that an investment for for the future of these talents.”

That said, the first recent fashion graduate AZ Factory invited to take a stab at couture, Cyril Bourez, ended up selling most of his 35 one-of-a-kind looks that interpreted iconic Elbaz designs via upcycled vintage Americana: Hawaiian shirts, sports jerseys and the like.

Grimaldi said the “guest amigo” experience allows young designers to work with a design team hand-selected by Elbaz, along with professional teams in product development, marketing and communications. It also puts them in contact with international press and get a taste of what a designer career is like, he said.

Meanwhile, for AZ Factory, it’s an “opportunity to underline our support to independent creativity from the very beginning,” he added.

Lora Sonney and Tennessy Thoreson have also designed couture collections or one-of-a-kind ranges for AZ Factory.

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