NEW YORK — Steven Kolb was downright gleeful Monday night. “We were two for two — we swept. If it had been the Olympics, we would have taken all the gold medals,” he boasted.
The chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America was still celebrating the recent win by Public School and M.Patmos of the International Woolmark Prize for men’s and women’s wear for 2014/15.
Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne and M.Patmos’ Marcia Patmos joined Kolb and Michelle Lee of the Woolmark Company at the NeueHouse here to celebrate the next crop of nominees: Chris Gelinas, Kaelen, Nellie Partow, Novis and Tanya Taylor for women’s wear, and Cadet, David Hart, Lucio Castro, Siki Im and Thaddeus O’Neil for men’s wear.
The U.S. winners for this year will be revealed on July 21, at which point they will vie for the 100,000 Australian dollar, or $79,400 at current exchange, top prize with five other regions around the world. The nominees are all tasked to create a collection from at least 80 percent wool and to get creative with the fabric.
“Sometimes these prizes are based on hype and marketing,” Kolb said, “but this is based on creativity and talent whether the designer is well known or not.”
The nominees were all intrigued by the challenge of getting innovative with wool.
Jordana Warmflash of Novis said, “People have a concept of wool as a heavy fabric, but I also use it for spring. And this allows us to experiment.”
David Hart said he generally uses a lot of merino wool in his men’s collection because the fiber is “so versatile.” He revealed that he will “be focusing on black tie” for his Woolmark collection. “I haven’t seen that before, so I think it will be a fresh idea.”
Chris Gelinas said he “loves textile development,” so he was looking forward to “being involved with a prize so focused on fiber and pushing it to new places.”
Cadet’s Brad Schmidt said he and his partner Raul Arevalo were also eager to try their hand at “changing the perception of raw materials.”
So who do this year’s winners think have the inside track? Patmos said she wasn’t familiar with all of the nominees but respected the work of Gelinas and Taylor. Public School’s Osborne said he is “a fan of Siki Im. I think he’ll do well in this project.” Chow couldn’t help but tease Im, who he said is often mistaken for him — just with longer hair and a beard. “I think he’s a shoo-in,” he said.
Turning serious, Chow said all of the nominees need to be prepared for the challenge if they win. “All the top retailers in the world pick up the collection, so you have to be able to produce the product.”