Described by last night’s hosts (Nick Grimshaw and Jourdan Dunn) as the most prestigious prize in fashion, The Woolmark Prize announced its winner at an exclusive event last night in London. The finalists were Ahluwalia, Jordan Dalah, EGONLAB, MMUSOMAXWELL, Peter Do and RUI – who all presented their Merino Wool collections in person at a showroom before the winner was announced.
The judging panel was nothing short of legendary – with experts including Carine Roitfeld, Edward Enninful, Ibrahim Kamara, Riccardo Tisci, Naomi Campbell and Tim Blanks tasked with selecting the winner. Hosted by Nick Grimshaw, last night’s finale saw them dish out the prizes for International Woolmark Prize to Saul Nash, and the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation to MMUSOMAXWELL.
Speaking on the prize, Naomi Campbell added that “It’s great to see the continuing shifts in fashion as young dynamic creatives are supported and nurtured across the globe, from Africa to China to the UK. Anyone who knows me will know that I’ve been supporting young talent at every opportunity, so I am very happy to be part of this initiative. Everything about the wool industry is self-supportive. It’s all about partnering the natural resources of the farms with the well-being of their sheep”.
This year, the prize celebrated the art of play – showing a film directed and starred in by FKA Twigs before the official announcement. The immersive showroom also fed into this theme, with the space used inspired by Isamu Noguchi’s cultural playscapes. Here, designers met with the judges to talk through their specially-created collections using Merino Wool, before the crowds came in to take a look.
Saul Nash took the crown for his innovative manipulation of wool – crafting new materials and techniques in his collection in collaboration with The Knitwear Lab. Focusing on how wool could benefit his central concerns of movement, Nash constructed pieces that replayed lycra with wool, bringing the material into the sphere of activewear. With a focus on minimising waste, and emphasising movement and performance, Saul Nash’s modern interpretation of knitwear challenged preconceived ideas surrounding sportswear – earning him the title.
MMUSOMAXWELL’s winning collection was committed to reducing its environmental impact and upskilling traditional craftsmanship. “They have a dream and what they are doing is not just for South Africa, but for a modern, western woman” explained Carine Roitfeld. “I think Karl would have loved to have spoken with them today and am sure he would be very happy to give this award to them.” Sourcing local raw materials and end-to-end production, MMUSOMAXWELL took an artisanal approach to its collection; promoting slow and small batch production through use of local artisans, to counteract the over-consumption pandemic.
With the prize, Saul will be awarded $200,000 AUD and MMUSOMAXWELL $100,000 AUD – but every finalist will continue to receive an education and mentoring program, recognising all of their personal victories in developing and showcasing each of their innovative collections.
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