MILAN — The International Woolmark Prize revealed its European regional finalists here on Tuesday, with David Laport and L’Homme Rouge winning for women’s wear and men’s wear, respectively.
The winners will receive 70,000 Australian dollars as a contribution to develop their final collection to be presented at the international finals that will take place in Florence in January.
Winners of the final competition will earn an additional 200,000 Australian dollars to invest in the development of their business and the opportunity to have their collections distributed by prominent retailers, such as Harvey Nichols in the U.K, L’Eclaireur in Paris and Boon the Shop in South Korea.
For the regional competition, Dutch designer Laport realized a feminine orange dress crafted in Merino wool crepe fabric and inspired by David Hockney’s “A Bigger Splash” painting.
“He walked in and I just though ‘wow’ at first sight, without even speaking,” said Edward Buchanan, creative director of the Sansovino 6 label, who was part of the women’s wear judging panel. “There was a simplicity and a joy, which we’re missing in fashion right now,” he added.
Regarding the craftsmanship, Buchanan praised Laport’s use of Merino wool, which, “along with David’s delicacy in crafting the details, has enhanced the freshness of the garment.”
A graduate of the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, the designer combines modern classic silhouettes with light fabrics, embellishments prone to movement and a bright color palette. After taking part several times in Amsterdam Fashion Week, in 2015 Laport debuted at Paris Fashion Week in collaboration with Dutch Vogue.
The other women’s wear finalists included Wim Bruynooghe from Belgium; Tereza Rosalie Kladošová from Czech Republic; Mark Kenly Domino Tan from Denmark; Vladimir Karaleev from Germany; Brognano from Italy; Aika Alemi from Kazakhstan; Moisés Nieto from Spain, and Bashaques’ from Turkey.
“It was my personal favorite,” said designer Damir Doma of the Swedish winning label L’Homme Rouge. Doma chaired the men’s wear judge panel.
“It is a very well-developed brand already, with a clear aesthetic, clear message and commercially very appealing. It has a strong home market, with 35 stockists in Scandinavia and this [prize] is a good [starting] point to grow outside,” added Doma.
L’Homme Rouge started as an undefined project by a gathering of people with a passion for design and art. The founder John-Ruben Holtback, along with his brother Carl-Johan and Axel Trägärdh, took the project to the next level in 2013 when they refocused L’Homme Rouge as a men’s wear label. In 2015, they were joined by designer Jonatan Härngren, who’s the current creative director.
Härngren presented an ensemble infused with an urban aesthetic and inspired by the Swedish seacoast. The designer also worked on the fabrics, showcasing waterproof wool garments.
The men’s wear finalists included Palomo Spain; Miaoran from Italy; Arte Antwerp from Belgium; Miro Sabo from Czech Republic; 22/4 from Germany; Jazz Kuipers from Netherlands; Neo Design from Serbia, and Miin from Turkey.
The Woolmark Company’s global strategy adviser Fabrizio Servente was also part of the men’s wear jury panel. In particular, Servente highlighted the evolution of the finalists’ use of wool since the creation of the prize. “Today young designers are much more aware of fabrics and wool, in particular. They use it in an innovative way and with unexpected expertise,” he said.
To recognize this approach, the company has also introduced an Innovation Award. Finalists running for the global title could also secure this additional prize, dedicated to outstanding innovation and creativity in the development of a fabric that contains a minimum of 50 percent Merino wool.
The winner of the Innovation Award will receive 100,000 Australian dollars and be featured in a global trade event and advertising program by Woolmark for 12 months.