When an event is hosted by Belgium’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, the fashion establishment that gave rise in the ’80s to the designers known as the Antwerp Six, you can be assured of the avant-garde. The group of nominees did not disappoint at the Europe regional final, with some of the most innovative collections created using Merino wool.
The event saw two prestigious panels of judges come together to decide the standouts, with Walter Van Beirendonck (one of the original Antwerp Six) joining the names presiding over the menswear prize that was ultimately awarded to Jonathan Christopher from the Netherlands.
The womenswear prize was judged by an influential line-up, including designers An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx of A.F. Vandevorst, fashion commentator Colin McDowell and mytheresa.com’s Justin O’Shea, and was bestowed upon Nanna Van Blaaderen in a second win for the Netherlands.
“The judges’ choice for the menswear winner was unanimous,” explained Van Beirendonck. “Jonathan came into the room with a true fashion focus; we all appreciated his innovation with Merino wool.” Christopher perfectly demonstrated the important part wool plays in his collections with his innovations in wool denim.
Van Blaaderen worked with pale-on-pale layers of three-dimensional texture to achieve her three-piece prize submission. “All the judges are hungry to see Nanna develop the collection for the international final,” said Vandevorst. “You can see that she really is in love with wool and knows how to manage the fibre.”
Both designers receive an AU$50,000 financial contribution towards their next collection as well as an invitation to participate in the international finals. The six menswear finalists, including Christopher and Van Blaaderen, will meet at Pitti Uomo, Florence, in January 2016, and the six womenswear finalists will meet in New York in February 2016.
Wednesday will see the Australian region decided at an event at Sydney’s MCA, while Asia, USA and the India, Pakistan and The Middle East region will roll out before the end of July.
Your crib notes to the International Woolmark Prize line-up for 2015/16
The announcement of the British Isles finalists kicks off this month’s regional awards round