From a special presentation evening in London overnight, English designer Saul Nash was named the winner of 2022 International Woolmark Prize. He is joined by South Africa’s design duo MMUSOMAXWELL who was awarded the equally-prestigious Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation. The two creatives were chosen from a group of seven finalists which also included Ahluwalia, EGONLAB, Jordan Dalah, Peter Do and Rui.
Each finalist was tasked with creating a six-look collection using Merino wool which celebrated this year’s theme, play. Partnering with the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, the immersive final showroom was inspired by the sculptural playscapes of Isamu Noguchi that offered a radical potential for physical and social interaction, showcasing the collections with colourful, architectural displays.
The expert jury featured Ben Gorham, Carine Roitfeld, Edward Enninful OBE, Ibrahim Kamara, Marc Newson CBE, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, Naomi Campbell, Pieter Mulier, Riccardo Tisci, Shaway Yeh, Sinéad Burke and Tim Blanks selected the winners. The announcement was hosted by Nick Grimshaw and was also attended by Jourdan Dunn, Pixie Geldof, Susie Lau and Erin O’Connor.
Nash was praised for his modern use of Merino wool in activewear – bridging the gap between active solutions and formal requirements – and focussed his collection on minimising waste and emphasising movement and performance.
“Everyone did a great job and could have been a winner,” said Riccardo Tisci, Creative Director of Burberry. “But what Saul did, coming from a ballet background to replace lycra with wool was really incredible.”
“Words cannot describe what this means to me,” said Saul Nash after the announcement. “In such a short space if time I am so grateful for what I have gained in the past eight months. This really is the cherry on top for everything Woolmark has done for me.”
Sourcing local raw materials and end-to-end production, MMUSOMAXWELL took an artisanal approach to its collection. Each item promotes slow and small batch production through use of local artisans to counteract the over-consumption pandemic and allows for greater product traceability. The jury praised the design duo for their passion, courage and committed to introducing a new skillset to South African manufacturers.
“When you meet certain people you immediately have love at first sight,” explains Carine Roitfeld, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of CR Fashion Book. “I love what MMUSOMAXWELL is doing and how they explain their work. They have a dream and what they are doing is not just for South Africa, but for a modern, western woman. I think Karl would have loved to have spoken with them today and am sure he would be very happy to give this award to them.”
“Winning means everything to us,” said MMUSOMAXWELL designers Maxwell Boko and Mmuso Potsane. “It allows us to continue working with artisans and to further explore with Merino wool, which is fantastic for us. It’s mind blowing.”
The winners each receive AU$200,000 and AU$100,000 respectively as well ongoing support from the industry and Woolmark Prize retail partners. Finalists will now continue their International Woolmark Prize journey, joining a prestigious alumni of more than 400, and will be presented with commercial opportunities via our Retail Partner Network.