Christian Wijnants wins Woolmark Prize
After a yearlong international search that produced a shortlist of six candidates from six global regions, The Woolmark Prize chose the European finalist Christian Wijnants as the winner of the 2013 edition. The Brussels-born designer based in Antwerp is the winner of 100,000 Australian dollars in prize money (more than 77,000 euros). Plus, the capsule collection he presented in London on Saturday evening will be available starting this fall at Harvey Nichols, Bergdorf Goodman, 10 Corso Como, Joyce, David Jones (Australia) and Eickhoff Königsallee (Germany), all partners of the prize association.
At the close of the regional finals, an initial grant of $50,000 enabled Christian Wijnants to produce his final collection for Woolmark. And more good news — in a few days the designer will make his big comeback on the Paris Fashion Week runways with his 21st collection, to be held in the salons of the Paris fourth arrondisement city hall.
Natalie Massenet, who is in her first year as chairperson of the British Fashion Council, opened the official ceremony Saturday night in London together with a VIP jury that included Victoria Beckham, Donatella Versace, Diane von Furstenberg, Franca Sozzani (Vogue Italia) and Tim Blanks (style.com). “Christian invented a new shape and made it possible with an industrial production process,” said Franca Sozzani following the announcement of the prize winner. “His designs (five pieces in 80 to 100% wool) are flattering, feminine and sexy, a modern interpretation of wool”
The Woolmark brand is owned by the Australian Wool Association, which boasts over 27,000 members. This year the prize improved its young talent and prize program by launching an international campaign together with the luxury industry, its most loyal traditional customer. The organization targeted major media outlets including Vogue, one of the (very) many media partners to the Woolmark Prize this year.
At its inception in the 1950s, the mission of the Woolmark company — then known as the International Wool Secretariat — was to promote the interests of wool threatened by the emergence of synthetic fibers. Today it emphasizes the natural and sustainable quality of its product still under siege. “Young consumers born in the era of ready-to-consume do not understand enough about the natural benefits of wool,” says the association without calling any names, instead tactfully preferring to emphasize that wool is “100% natural, biodegradable and renewable.” It also likes to remind newcomers to wool that “sheep live on grass, water, sun and fresh air.”
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