The International Woolmark Prize is kind of a big deal in fashion, and earlier this month musician FKA Twigs directed a film to celebrate this year's finalists Ahluwalia, EGONLAB, Jordan Dalah, MMUSOMAXWELL, Peter Do, RUI and Saul Nash. With previous winners including a 16 year old Yves Saint Laurent in 1953, plus Matty Bovan and Emily Bode in recent years, the prestigious prize spotlights the crème de la crème of fashion craftsmen by asking finalists to create six-look collections using Australian Merino wool. The prize's 2022 edition is themed Playscape, and the final took place in London this afternoon in partnership with the Garden Museum and Isamu Noguchi Foundation, whose sculptural creations inspired the showroom where the finalists presented their collections.
Selected by a judging panel which included British Vogue's editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, critic Tim Blanks, stylist and editor Ibrahim Kamara and designer Pieter Mulier of Alaïa, Saul Nash was named the winner of the International Woolmark Prize and MMUSOMAXWELL took home the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation.
Founding his label in 2018, London-based Saul Nash made his debut as part of Fashion East, the talent incubator launched by Lulu Kennedy. A training in dance and performance design is integral to the British-Guyanese designer's sportswear, with slits and zips in his tracksuits allowing a freedom of movement best illustrated in Nash's choreographed fashion films with director Fx Goby, and runway shows which draw on his London upbringing. Earlier this year, his A/W 22 collection, from which his Woolmark capsule draws upon, was dedicated to the late owner of London's first black barbershop Clevent Artrey. Knitwear took a triumphantly prominent role in this collection, featuring warped prints of the Guyana flag which had been waved over a projector, and could be seen today in Nash's Woolmark capsule. 'I can't describe how much this means to me', Nash said in his acceptance speech, noting that the Woolmark Company has 'changed the trajectory of my life'. Nash dedicated the award to his design studio, family and the dance community. Taking home £114,000 to propel their business forward, this is only the beginning for the Saul Nash cohort.
Ahead of the announcement, fashion editor Carine Roitfeld presented the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation to the South African womenswear design duo MMUSOMAXWELL. 'Karl always believed in supporting young creatives...and fostering talent', Roitfeld reminisced of her late friend. Designers Maxwell Boko and Mmuso Potsane 'showed an unprecedented and simulating approach to the use of Merino wool', Roiteld said. They will receive £57,000 to help develop their business, which was first launched in 2016 and has tailoring at its core.