An award for excellence in design using wool was created in 1953 by the International Wool Secretariat to support emerging designers. The following year, two young designers won for their innovative designs highlighting the versatility of wool. These two designers were Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.
Over half a century on, the final of the most recent incarnation of the award - the International Woolmark Prize - will be presented during London Fashion Week in February. The finalists, who have emerged from a total of seventy applicants nominated by fashion industry figures in their respective regions are; Sophie Theallet from the US, Christian Wijnants from Europe (Belgium), Ban Xiao Xiu from China, Dion Lee from Australia, DRESSEDUNDRESSED from Japan and Pankaj and Nidhi from India.
The prize, $100,000 AUD ($105,000 USD) and placement of the winning collection in top boutiques around the globe including Bergdorf Goodman in the USA, Harvey Nichols in the UK, 10 Corso Como in Italy, Joyce in China, Eickoff in Germany and David Jones in Australia, has generated significant interest worldwide and has evolved into a highly coveted, internationally recognised award, presented by peers and mentors to the future leaders of the industry.
The international final of the award will be held on February 16 and presented as part of London Fashion Week, thanks to the British Fashion Council, the UK nominating body for the prize. The final judging panel is made up of nine of the most important and influential people in fashion, each one a pillar of the global fashion industry.
The international judging panel included:
Diane von Furstenberg, Co-Chairman and Founder, Diane von Furstenberg Studio LP
Donatella Versace, Creative Director and Vice President of Gianni Versace S.p.A.
Tim Blanks, Editor-at-Large Style.com
Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, L’Uomo Vogue Italia and Vogue.it. Editorial Director of Condé Nast Italia. “Goodwill Ambassador for Fashion 4 Development” for the UN
Retail partners judging panel included:
Andrew Keith, President of JOYCE and Lane Crawford
Carla Sozzani, Owner 10 Corso Como
Linda Fargo, Senior Vice President Fashion Office and Store Presentation Bergdorf Goodman
Paula Reed, Creative Director Harvey Nichols
Stefan Asbrand-Eickhoff, EICKHOFF KÖNIGSALLEE