Woolmark named the winners of the European and Australian regional awards for its International Woolmark Prize, which recognizes young design talent.
From the 17 nominees, each in the women’s and men’s wear categories, Netherlands-based Jonathan Christopher and Nanna Van Blaaderen took the respective prizes in Europe.
The jury consisting of designer Walter van Beirendonck, German Vogue editor in chief Christiane Arp and MyTheresa’s buying director Justin O’Shea, among others, chose Christopher by “unanimous decision,” according to Beirendonck, who lauded the newcomer for his “vision” and “the innovation with which he used the material, merino wool, in particular.”
Christopher, who also scooped the Global Denim Award last fall, is experimenting with a wool denim fiber at the moment, “a completely new trend in the wool sector,” he said.
Van Blaaderen, meanwhile, convinced the jury with her “3-D textures.”
Meanwhile, Bianca Spender and Patrick Johnson were named the winners for women’s wear and men’s wear, respectively, in the Australian region.
The Sydney judging panel was comprised of London-based designer Osman Yousefzada; David Jones general manager for women’s wear Sophie Clark and general manager for men’s wear Deborah Foreman; Vogue Australia editor in chief Edwina McCann; Harper’s Bazaar Australia editor in chief Kellie Hush; Manuscript editor in chief Mitchell Oakley-Smith, and The Woolmark Company’s general manager of global marketing and communications Melissa Grace.
All 12 international finalists — two each from Australia, Asia, the U.S., Europe, the U.K. and India/Pakistan/the Middle East — receive a 50,000 Australian dollar, or $37,150 at current exchange, cash prize, to complete production of a six-unit capsule collection made from Australian superfine merino wool.
The competition’s two overall winners will each receive 100,000 Australian dollars or $74,299, and have their capsule collections stocked in Harvey Nichols, 10 Corso Como, Matchesfashion.com, Mytheresa.com, Saks Fifth Avenue, Joyce, Isetan Mitsukoshi, Boutique 1 and David Jones. The men’s wear finalists will meet in Florence in January, and the women’s wear finalists will be judged in New York in February.
Spender, the daughter of high-profile Australian fashion designer Carla Zampatti, launched her label in 2009.
Johnson launched his largely bespoke P. Johnson Tailors business in 2008, with three showrooms/stores now operating in Sydney, Melbourne and, as of three months ago, 145 Spring Street in New York.
“For us, it [the win] is a good way to get more momentum with our weavers and really push wool,” said Johnson, who was born and raised on a South Australian merino sheep station and developed the fabrics for his winning look — a transparent ivory deconstructed tuxedo jacket over ink blue slim-line trousers and a white high-neck fine knit shirt — with Vitale Barberis Canonico in Biella, Italy and New York’s Knit Resource Center.