PARIS — Reflecting a period of churn at the helm of leading luxury brands, the jury of the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers will welcome no fewer than three new members this year.
Clare Waight Keller and Haider Ackermann, artistic directors of Givenchy and Berluti, respectively, will join the lineup together with Sidney Toledano, who is preparing to take over as chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Fashion Group after almost 20 years at the helm of Christian Dior Couture.
Together with industry-leading designers including Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and Nicolas Ghesquière, they will judge the fifth edition of the contest, which on Dec. 15 opened its site to applications from anyone between the ages of 18 and 40 who has produced and sold at least two women’s or men’s ready-to-wear collections.
“We are very excited by these three invaluable additions to our jury,” said Delphine Arnault, the force behind the initiative and a key talent scout at family-controlled LVMH, noting that both Waight Keller and Ackermann have designed collections for women and men, helping them develop a broad skill set.
“We are proud to welcome Sidney Toledano in the jury this year. Sidney boasts a tremendous experience in the world of fashion and the candidates are sure to learn a lot from him,” added Arnault, who cut her teeth alongside Toledano at Dior before being named executive vice president of Louis Vuitton in 2013.
Meanwhile, the committee of experts that pre-selects the eight finalists for the prize, to be awarded in June, is gaining six members: Creative consultant Amanda Harlech, who works alongside Lagerfeld at Chanel; entrepreneur Carmen Busquets; Sara Maino, deputy editor in chief of Italian Vogue and head of Vogue Talents, as well as three fashion school executives.
They are Fabio Piras, course director of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London; Burak Cakmak, dean of fashion of Parsons School of Design in New York, and Hans de Foer, director of the postgraduate fashion program at the Institut Français de la Mode in Paris.
“The ties with fashion schools are essential to us. First and foremost, the LVMH Prize, in addition to honoring designers, also distinguishes three young fashion graduates who will spend one year working within the studios of one of the houses,” noted Arnault.
They will join 43 other journalists, stylists, buyers, photographers and other fashion professionals on the committee, among them makeup artist Peter Philips and retailer Carla Sozzani.
The winning candidate will walk away with a grand prize of 300,000 euros, plus a year of coaching from experts at luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, parent of fashion houses including Vuitton, Dior, Fendi, Loewe, Givenchy and Kenzo.
The prize has attracted more than 5,000 applications since its inception and welcomed more than 27 nationalities and 110 designers to the semifinal, Arnault said.
“The prize welcomes candidates from all over the world, regardless of gender and nationality. All you need in order to apply is a computer and Internet access. As a result, candidates from 90 countries applied last year. Our campaigns target Asia but we are also very keen to see talent emerging from Africa and South America,” she told WWD. Applicants have until Feb. 5 to enter.
Arnault noted the prize has always promoted diversity, with last year’s award going to Marine Serre, a women’s wear designer, while the runner-up special prize went to Kozaburo Akasaka, who produces men’s wear. It has also included gender fluid collections. “The prize truly reflects our changing times,” she said.
This year, candidates are being asked to address an extra criterion, sustainability, on the application form, the executive added.
The group plans to fly the semifinalists to the French capital to showcase their designs at its headquarters on Avenue Montaigne on March 1 and 2 during Paris Fashion Week for the members of the expert committee and other invited guests to inspect.
In mid June, the finalists of the 2018 edition are to face the jury. In addition to Arnault, Toledano, Lagerfeld, Jacobs, Ghesquière, Waight Keller and Ackermann, it includes Maria Grazia Chiuri, artistic director of Christian Dior; Kenzo designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim; Loewe’s Jonathan Anderson, and Jean-Paul Claverie, an adviser to LVMH chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault and the group’s director of sponsorships.
The outgoing jury members are Céline’s Phoebe Philo, who has left LVMH, and Pierre-Yves Roussel, formerly chairman and ceo of LVMH Fashion Group, who is taking some time off before taking on new operational responsibilities with the LVMH executive committee.