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Qiu Hao wins prestigious Woolmark Prize Award
Jul '08
MME Sonia Rykiel, Patron of The Woolmark Prize, announced Qiu Hao from China will now join design greats Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Romeo Gigli, Dolce & Gabbana and Giorgio Armani in the Woolmark hall of fame, as the 2008 winner of the inaugural Woolmark Prize.

The original wool awards were held between 1954–1992 by the International Wool Secretariat (IWS). The Woolmark Prize takes up where IWS left off, upholding the original foundations on which the award was built: excellence, innovation and distinction.

The aim of today's prize is to underscore the importance of Merino wool to the fashion world by recognising, rewarding and showcasing emerging talents and cutting-edge creativity that emphasises the sensual, sculptural aspects of knit.

Before attending Central Saint Martins College, London, 30 year old Shanghai designer Qiu Hao graduated in interior design at Suzhou University. Since his 2006 debut, Qiu Hao has consistently supplied razor sharp tailoring and smooth deconstruction in a largely monochromatic colour palette. Each collection is balanced by a measure of softness; a curve, a texture, a physical motion that eschews the obvious.

“It is with great pleasure that Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) once again bring the honour and prestige of such an international prize to assist emerging talent so that they may occupy a solid place in the global apparel industry,” said Mr Craig Welsh, CEO. Australian Wool Innovation. “We see the Woolmark Prize as an opportunity to support the future of design and at the same time, showcase to the world Australian Merino wool at its best and most innovative,” said Mr Welsh.

As the winner of the 2008 prize Qiu Hao will receive industry support to the value of €100,000 ($163,000) which is invaluable to an emerging designer. AWI will provide aid and expertise in sourcing material, production, presentation and promotion of a collection. High end Paris boutique, Colette, has agreed to carry exclusive stock of a limited edition garment.

U.S. Vogue Fashion News Feature Director Sally Singer, global fashion expert and 2008 awards judge, said “It's a wonderful time to relaunch The Woolmark Prize; the list of finalists were exceptional and reflects the innovation and rigor that a new generation of designers is investing in their work. Artisanal work in fashion is always going to be synonymous with knitwear and it's the time to buy luxurious things that are made and designed with care.”

The Woolmark Prize represents the first of many AWI initiatives focused on enhancing the presence and value of the Woolmark portfolio. Over the next three years AWI will invest over €75.000,000 in relaunching and repositioning the Woolmark brand and establishing Australian Merino wool as one of the most exciting fibres available today, unique for its natural, biodegradable and sustainable qualities.

Australian Wool Innovation Limited

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