Last night, the International Woolmark Prize arrived in London to announce this year’s winner. Over the years, it has been awarded to some of the biggest names in fashion – the late Karl Lagerfeld, Ralph Lauren, Yves Saint Laurent – recognising the kind of talent that could very well make you a household name.
In more recent years, subversive British designers Matty Bovan and Richard Malone have taken the crown. The perks? A mentoring scheme and support for designers’ development, research and – importantly – Big Biz ideas, as well as a hefty $200k in prize money. Woolmark also awards the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, which offers the winner taking $100k and ongoing support from the Australia-based company. Not bad, eh?
But with seven finalists (more on that in a minute), there can only be two winners. Last night, Nick “Grimmy” Grimshaw took to the stage to welcome model Jourdan Dunn, who announced Londoner Saul Nash as the winner of the Woolmark Prize 2022. In recent years, the Fashion East and Royal College of Art alumnus has merged his dance and choreography background to produce innovative takes on sportswear, which feel just as at home on the track as they do on the sticky floors of any given party, using technical fabrics on super slick jackets, zip-off trousers and breathable tops.
French editor Carine Roitfeld then announced South African brand MMUSOMAXWELL as the winner of the Karl Lagerfeld Award, prompting the duo behind the brand to get teary-eyed on stage after thanking all of those who made it possible. Ahh.
The other finalists hailed from all corners of the world – Ahluwalia from London, EGONLAB from France, Jordan Dalah from Australia, Peter Do from the USA and RUI from China – each presenting a take on sustainability and innovation through genuinely brilliant designs. Peter Do, for example, showed off a monochrome collection that can be worn 365 different ways – one for each day of the year.
And Ahluwalia, whose commitment to sustainability has seen her travel to India – where part of her family is from – to learn about the wasteful impacts of fast fashion. In turn, her technicoloured brand has utilised modern methods of combating waste, like upcycling and using organic dyes, in designs that take inspiration from her Nigerian and Indian heritage, often to glittering effect and high acclaim.
Hats off to Nash, MMUSOMAXWELL and the rest of the finalists. You all smashed it.