Since the 1950s, the International Woolmark Prize has sought out and supported some of the most promising and prominent designers in the fashion industry. The network of alumni features the late Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Emily Bode Aujla, Richard Malone, Angel Chen, Gabriela Hearst, Rahul Mishra and most recently, Matty Bovan.
Today, Woolmark announced the seven finalists for 2022; Ahluwalia (United Kingdom), EGONLAB (France), Jordan Dalah (Australia), MMUSOMAXWELL (South Africa), Peter Do (USA), Rui (China), Saul Nash (United Kingdom). The announcement arrives after hundreds of applications were reviewed by an esteemed panel of industry members and The Woolmark Company to select the finalists.
“I definitely admire the Karl Lagerfeld’s and Yves Saint Laurent’s, however, when you speak of Richard Malone and Matty Bovan I remember being in my first year of university at Saint Martins when [they were also studying]. It’s so interesting to see that I’m following the footsteps of designers that I have studied with and worked alongside,” Jordan Dalah, finalist and Central Saint Martins graduate tells GRAZIA.
This year’s program heroes “PLAY” with designers invited to play and experiment with textiles, design and business practices to drive change and innovation for a brighter future. The seven finalists will present a Merino wool collection for Autumn/Winter 2022 highlighting transparency throughout their supply chain and, alongside partner Common Objective, will build a sustainability roadmap.
Dalah opened Afterpay Australian Fashion Week in May with an array of exaggerated silhouettes and voluminous gowns – a hallmark of his namesake brand. The same can be expected of his forthcoming collection with Woolmark.
“I only ever put silhouettes out there that are true to my brand and my identity but interestingly, I’ve worked with wool ever since I started,” he recalled. “I am exploring some cool and interesting, unexpected silhouettes with this capsule collection.”
Each finalist will receive a $60,000 AUD grant for the development of their Merino collection and will be supported by the program’s education and mentoring initiative, the Innovation Academy. Industry leaders will serves a mentors for the designers and includes, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Stylist & Editor, Holli Rogers, Chief Brand Officer, Farfetch, Sinéad Burke, Educator and Advocate, Sara Sozzani Maino, Head of Vogue Talents, Deputy Director Vogue Italia & Int Brand, Shaway Yeh, Founder YehYehYeh and Group Style Editorial Director Modern Media Group and Tim Blanks, Editor-at-Large, Business of Fashion.
One finalist will be awarded the International Woolmark Prize and receive $200,000 AUD to invest in the development of their business. For Dalah, this would used on the everyday running of his brand from production to sourcing fabrics and shooting. But he says the sheer exposure of the event is as equally beneficial. The Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation will be awarded to another finalist, with the winner receiving $100,000 AUD. The Woolmark Supply Chain Award will also be presented, celebrating outstanding contribution from a trade partner driving wool supply chain innovation.
“To be nominated as one of the seven finalists is incredibly exciting,” the designer said. “I’m an international designer, proudly based in Sydney and doing something a little bit different. Having the backing of Woolmark to support that by choosing me is really flattering and really humbling.”
Furthermore, all finalists will have the opportunity to be stocked at some of the world’s leading stores, via the International Woolmark Prize Retailer Network.
The winner will be announced in April, 2022.