The winner of the 2013 International Woolmark Prize, Christian Wijnants, is a 34-year-old designer based in Antwerp, Belgium.
“My first reaction to hearing that I had won the International Woolmark Prize was of great surprise,” Christian said.
“I am of course honoured to be given this ultimate recognition by the industry. What I found most interesting was the feedback and comments I received from the judges on the collection. It was very impressive to be in front of such esteemed industry celebrities with such a wealth of knowledge in fashion. Getting their feedback on my collection is enrichment for me as a designer.”
Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia and L’Uomo Vogue, who was one of the judges, had commented, “Christian invented a new shape and made it possible with an industrial production process. His designs are flattering, feminine and sexy, a modern interpretation of wool.”
Christian has an impressive resume. After graduating in 2000 from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Christian went on to win the Grand Prix at Festival de Hyères in France.
His win at the 2013 International Woolmark Prize has now propelled him onto the front pages of every Belgium newspaper as well as the global fashion media. He is now looking forward to the opportunities that the award has opened up to him.
“There are so many fantastic elements to the prize, firstly the amazing opportunity to sell my collection through six of the top retail stores in the world, I am not currently stocked in any of these stores so it is a great opportunity to work with such important retailers,” he said.
“Then of course, there is the media exposure and visibility for the brand and the recognition from the industry which is very motivating and very helpful to develop my brand.
“And of course the financial prize which will help to support the immediate growth of the brand and go into creating the next showings at Paris Fashion week and provide valuable assistance to continue to develop and source the best wool for the coming collection.”
Christian said he greatly values the association that he has with the Woolmark brand and will promote it and wool into the future.
“The connection that I now have to the Woolmark brand is super important and a great honour. As I continue to develop the brand I am very proud and happy to promote wool and work with Woolmark because I really believe in the environmental benefits of wool which aligns closely to my own brand philosophy of using natural fibres.”
Christian’s Merino wool collection that featured at the final of the International Woolmark Prize was based on the simple idea of starting from a single white yarn and exploring all its potential. He worked with one type of yarn in 100 per cent Merino wool, on seamless garments, knitted in one piece.
The leading theme was based on hand-knitting and hand-dyeing techniques, using deep colours inspired by crystals and minerals, and experimenting to obtain unique shades and avoid shrinkage. Every piece was dyed with innovative techniques, and some of them were unravelled and then re-knitted to create a unique irregular effect.