LVMH Prize announces 8 finalists
With six nationalities represented by four gender-neutral labels, two womenswear brands and two menswear specialists, the final of the LVMH Prize is set to be more diverse than ever before. Among the finalists is the first Israeli designer ever to make it to this stage of the competition, as well as two African labels, one from Nigeria, the other from South Africa. The eight brands – based in London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Lagos and Johannesburg – have already successfully made it through two rounds, the first of which, taking place from 1 to 2 March, narrowed the field down to 20 semi-finalists.
"The diversity and richness of the collections presented for the sixth edition of the LVMH Prize this year is testament to these talented designers, making the decision of our 63 experts incredibly difficult," commented Delphine Arnault in a press release. "This edition notably establishes the emergence of environmental and sustainable issues among the applicants. The final shortlist of the Prize highlights gender-neutral collections with four designers presenting creations that can be worn by both women and men."
Japanese designer Kunihiko Moriniga, who founded his womenswear brand Anrealage in 2003, is without a doubt the best known of the finalists, having already been an ANDAM Prize finalist in 2015. Renowned for his innovative spirit and his focus on technology, he has held runway shows in Paris since September 2014.
Three of the other finalists also present their collectons in the French capital. Hed Mayner, for example, has been showing in Paris since June 2017. Having studied at Jerusalem's Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, the Israeli designer continued his education at the Institut Français de la Mode, before launching his gender-neutral brand in 2015, channelling varied cultural influences into an aesthetic based around loose, flowing pieces.
A graduate of New York's Parsons School of Design, San Francisco-born Spencer Phipps launched his sustainable gender-neutral label, Phipps, in Paris in January 2018. The former Dries Van Noten menswear designer, who has also worked at Marc Jacobs, aims to create clothes that are both beautiful and environmentally friendly.
Nigerian designer Kenneth Izedonmwen presents his collections in both Paris and Lagos. His gender-neutral line, Kenneth Ize, reimagines tailored garments in vibrant colours, mixing contemporary design with Nigerian craftsmanship.
The second American brand on the list of finalists, Bode is a menswear line launched in 2016 by New Yorker Emily Adams Bode, who uses old fabric to create unique patchwork pieces that channel a subtly nostalgic vibe.
There are also two British talents among the finalists. The first of them, London-based designer Bethany Williams, is perhaps best known for her socially and environmentally sustainable approach. She launched her 100% ethical gender-neutral line after graduating from the London College of Fashion in 2016. She has notably collaborated with and supported a wide range of different communities, from the homeless to former drug addicts.
The other UK-based label is Stefan Cooke, launched in 2017 by the eponymous designer and his partner Jake Burt following their graduation from Central Saint Martins. The pair, who won the H&M Design Award in 2018, reinterpret menswear with creativity and innovative textile techniques.
Finally, South African designer Thebe Magugu launched his namesake women's ready-to-wear label in Johannesburg in 2017. Focusing on local craftsmanship and African fabrics, the young designer won the International Fashion Showcase (IFS) organised by the British Council, the British Fashion Council, the London College of Fashion, the UAL and Somerset House earlier this year.
These young talents will come together once again in June at Paris' Fondation Louis Vuitton, where the jury – joined this year by Kris van Assche – will announce which of the labels will be following in the footsteps of Doublet, the Japanese brand led by Masayuki Ino that won the prize in 2018 alongside Korean designer Rok Hwang and his womenswear label Rokh, which was awarded with the special prize.
The winner will receive 300,000 euros and personalised support from LVMH for a year. Three young fashion school graduates will also receive 10,000 euros and will be given the opportunity to work as part of the design team of one of the luxury group's brands for a year. The graduate competition will continue accepting applications until 15 May.
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