Richard Malone and Bode win top awards at Woolmark Prize
Irish designer Richard Malone has been chosen from among ten finalists as the winner of the 2020 International Woolmark Prize, while the U.S.’s Bode took home the inaugural Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation.
Held at London Fashion Week, the final of this year’s competition tasked each finalist with presenting a six-look capsule collection in Merino wool, which, for the first time in the prize’s history, also had to be completely traceable.
The finalists, who have all participated in an education and mentoring programme provided by the The Woolmark Company’s Innovation Academy, also had to present sustainability roadmaps and use technology from Woolmark partner Provenance in their collections.
Malone took inspiration from his upbringing in Wexford, Ireland to create his collection, eliminating chemicals traditionally used in the dyeing process in order to minimize its impact on the environment.
Collaborating with weavers in Tamil Nadu, India, the designer combined 100% organic, plant-based dyes with Merino wool and other conscious fibres, as well as more recent innovations, to create a capsule promoting a circular fashion system.
“Winning the Woolmark Prize is completely unexpected,” commented Malone. “It means we can continue working with this supply chain and share our learning with other brands and designers. It also opens up the dialogue of fashion so more people can be part of it. Thank you to Australia’s woolgrowers for growing this incredible fibre.”
As for Emily Adams Bode, whose Bode brand was also a finalist for the LVMH Prize in 2019, the Atlanta, Georgia-born designer chose to use deadstock fabrics found in abandoned factories for her collection, which won her the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation.
Adams Bode received her prize from Carine Roitfeld, founder and editor-in-chief of CR Fashion Book, and a long-time friend and collaborator of the late, great German designer, who won the coat category of the Woolmark Prize in 1954.
Adams Bode and Malone’s prize wins have earnt them awards of AU$100,000 (approximately US$65,000) and AU$200,000 (around US$130,000), respectively. Along with their fellow finalists, they will also be presented with commercial opportunities through The Woolmark Company’s Retail Partner Network.
Aside from Malone and Adams Bode, the prize’s finalists in 2020 included the UK’s A-Cold-Wall – also a finalist of the LVMH Prize in 2018, South Korea-based Blindness, Botter from the Netherlands, and Fang Chen Wang, based in China and the UK. Germany’s GmbH, France’s Ludovic de Saint Sernin, U.S.-based Matthew Adams Dolan, and Belgium’s Namacheko rounded out the selection.
The panel for this year’s final was made up of Tim Blanks, Hamish Bowles, Sinead Burke, Edward Enninful OBE, Kim Jones, Takashi Murakami, Holli Rogers, Anja Rubik and Shaway Yeh.
The collections produced by this year’s Woolmark Prize finalists are expected to be commercially available in September 2020.
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