By  on January 7, 2014

The Woolmark Co. has finalized plans for the International Woolmark Prize competition that will take place in Milan during fashion week on Feb. 21. The five selected finalists will show their merino wool collections during a fashion show at the Museo Della Triennale, competing for the 100,000 Australian dollar global award.The judging panel for the final event are Angelica Cheung, editor at large of Vogue China; Colette Garnsey, director of Australian Wool Innovation; Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of Vogue Italia; Frida Giannini, Gucci’s creative director; Tim Blanks, editor at large of, and fashion writer Colin McDowell.Retailers will join the panel to provide their insight and perspective on the commercial viability of the finalists. The retail partners are from 10 Corso Como, Italy; Colette, France; David Jones, Australia; Harvey Nichols, the U.K.; Joyce, China;, and Saks Fifth Avenue, U.S.The five finalists, selected through a global search, are ffiXXed for Asia, Christopher Esber for Australia, Sibling for Europe, Rahul Mishra for India and the Middle East, and Altuzarra for the U.S. Each finalist will present a six-piece collection highlighting merino wool. In addition to the final prize of 100,000 Australian dollars, the winner will get the opportunity to be carried by the international retail partners.In related news, next year’s International Woolmark Prize will be open to men’s designers for the first time. This will start with the regional IWP competitions in 2014, culminating in the big final IWP event in February 2015 in New York. Submissions are currently being sought. A men’s and women’s wear regional finalist will be awarded 50,000 Australian dollars each and the opportunity to compete at the international final event in 2015. The global men’s and women’s wear winners will be awarded an additional 100,000 Australian dollars each, and their winning collections will be sold at top retailers internationally, who are partners in the project.“In keeping with a long tradition of supporting individual excellence in design, the International Woolmark Prize aims to highlight the beauty of the merino wool fiber at the hands of the world’s finest designers,” said Stuart McCullough, chief executive officer of Australian Wool Innovation. “The prize proves our commitment in supporting new fashion talent, not only giving them a financial prize, but more importantly helping them to build a solid selling network through the retailers who partner with us on this project.”The award is supported internationally by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, British Fashion Council, Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid and Premsela Foundation. The company’s mission is to enhance the profitability, international competitiveness and sustainability for the Australian wool industry and increase demand and market access for Australian wool.

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