A year ago, Cécile Gray won the Prix du Public de la Villa Noailles in the category of « creator of fashion accessories ». A life change as sudden as it was successful for this budding stylist, who just over a year ago, was still working as an architect.  This meteoric rise confirms her choice of career path and reveals to us a designer full of inspiration.

The Hyères International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories is held every year in the spring, with the aim of supporting young designers. In recent years, a new category has been added to the list of awards, dedicated to accessories. A perfect opportunity that allowed Cécile Gray to exhibit her collection of “jewellery-clothing”, promisingly entitled, Initiale(s). But in order to achieve this, the young designer had to make bold choices. While she had always felt a passion for fashion design, reason had prevailed, guiding her towards a creative but safer choice of studies in architecture. It was in 2016 that she decided to fulfill her dream, and the following year enrolled in a fashion school, the Ateliers Chardon Savard in Paris. A challenge, a gamble on her future, which paid off with the Prix du Public at the festival D’Hyères.

In the same year, she developed her collection of “jewellery clothing”, started shortly before joining the school. Designed to enhance a garment, bracelets, necklaces and earrings here become the key elements of the outfit, while the fabric in turn becomes an accessory. From the golden steel wires she weaves, Cécile Gray will form a mesh by joining them together through connecting points. She does not hesitate to play with scale, textures or volume. Some pieces can reach over a metre in length, varying in size according to the tension. When worn, the jewel folds to the body’s movements, follows its curves while providing structure to the figure. The result is undeniable, striking both for its aesthetics and its concept. It’s up to the onlooker’s imagination to decide whether what they see is a piece of jewellery, clothing or a piece of art. Inspired by references in art and fashion, these pieces are above all a reflection of their creator. “They really tell my story,” explains Cécile Gray. The story of an architect who became a designer.

She has managed to successfully combine past and present, drawing on her background and past expertise while exploring her new techniques. Whether it be in design – thinking in terms of context, space, requirements and feasibility – in the choice of materials – metal, glass – or in the creation – architecture or modelling software for drawings and models – architecture is one of the first components in Cécile Gray’s work.

A brand, or even a signature from now on, that she claims even in her pseudonym, Gray, subtly borrowed both from the designer Madame Grès and the architect Eileen Gray, but also, in a more romantic way, from Oscar Wilde’s Portrait of Dorian Gray. This hybrid approach means she is not confined to a single field of specialisation, and allows her to imagine the post-Villa Noailles future under an ever-widening but still to be defined spectrum. The Prix Public has placed the designer and her work under the spotlight, bringing a host of new encounters and proposals in France and from abroad, and this barely achieved desire has immediately turned into a first step, an opportunity to be seized. Be it a clothing collection , a redesign of her jewellery, brand creation, arranging an exhibition or an art installation, there is no shortage of ideas for new projects, in fashion but not only….

Text : Marie-Charlotte Burat
Cécile Gray sur instagram