2023 International Woolmark Prize winners feted in Paris

Sheep Central, May 17, 2023

Danish designer Amalie Røge Hove, centre left, and Lagos Space Programme founder and designer Adeju Thompson, centre right, hoist their IWP trophies flanked by some of their models. Image – Woolmark.

NIGERIAN design label Lagos Space Programme has been awarded the 2023 International Woolmark Prize in Paris with a collection that impressed with how it explored and used Merino wool to tailor garments.

Danish knitwear brand A. ROEGE HOVE won the prestigious Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation at the Paris showroom at Le Petit Palais on Monday night with an innovative collection.

The winners each receive AU$200,000 and AU$100,000 as well as ongoing support from the industry and Woolmark Prize retail partners.

Amsterdam-based textile innovation studio BYBORRE was recognised as the Supply Chain Award recipient for the invaluable contribution it has paid to finalists across the past few years, Woolmark said.

Woolmark said an expert panel of judges including Alessandro Sartori, Carine Roitfeld, Caroline de Maigret,   Elizabeth von der Goltz, Francesco Risso, John Roberts, Pieter Mulier, Salehe Bembury, Shaway Yeh, Sinéad Burke, Tim Blanks, and Tyler Mitchell selected the winners.

Woolmark said Lagos Space Programme is a conceptual non-binary design label by Adeju Thompson, offering “intellectual, ready-to-wear, high-end crafted collections while exploring parallel concepts through multidisciplinary collaboration projects”. The brand impressed judges with its completeness in the collection and the way it explored and used Merino wool to tailor each piece, Woolmark said.

Fashion enthusiast Elizabeth von der Goltz said she loved the important story behind the brand and what it is bringing to light in Nigerian community.

“They’re crafted beautifully and look like something you could buy in the most luxurious retailers in the world.”

LSP founder and Designer Adeju Thompson said winning the award is a life-changing opportunity.

“It means that things will be easier for  me; coming from Nigeria there’s no support.

“To have recognition from The Woolmark Company – wow, I’m so speechless and I’m looking forward to the future,” he said.

Woolmark said A. ROEGE HOVE is a conceptual knitwear brand that challenges traditions with a modern and artistic approach to original craftsmanship and an aim for silhouettes to be both effortless and extravagant. The unique designs are created each season by founder Amalie Røge Hove.

Fashion designer Pieter Mulier said the way Amalie Røge Hove constructed her collection and the emphasis on development felt new to him.

Amalie Røge Hove said winning the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation “really means everything.”

“We’ve been talking about how want to invest in innovation and new things in the studio.

“Some of these things were out of reach but something like this makes it really possible. It really means everything,” she said.

Woolmark said the International Woolmark Prize returned to Paris as a tribute to the award’s humble beginnings, where more than 70 years ago it catapulted the careers of Valentino Garavani, Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, with a judging panel comprising Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy. Today, the award still celebrates the natural beauty and versatility of Merino wool, but has evolved to provide finalists with the tools required to support sustainable growth through industry mentorship across all areas of business, Woolmark said.

The 2023 International Woolmark Prize was centred around the theme of Dialogue, representing both an important element in the creative process and acting as a letter both to, and for, the next generation, reflecting The Woolmark Company’s mission to establish dialogue and connect leading design talent with industry players to collectively envision a more sustainable future.

Woolmark said the award also fosters a dialogue between the entire supply chain and Australia’s 60,000-plus wool growers who passionately produce the remarkable fibre that remains at the heart of the prize. The Le Petit Palais showroom was brought to life by dancers in a special performance choreographed by last year’s Woolmark Prize winner, Saul Nash. Each of the eight dancers wore a key look from this year’s finalists.

The Woolmark Company managing director and Australian Wool Innovation chief executive officer John Roberts said ultimately, the International Woolmark Prize celebrates Australian Merino wool, with the winners and finalists imbued with a life-long love for the fibre.

“Karl Lagerfeld is a prime example, and more recently, Gabriela Hearst – who won the Woolmark Prize here in Paris in 2017 – continues to be a wonderful champion of the fibre.

“We’re proud of the nurturing relationships developed as part of the program, connecting designer with the supply chain and breaking down barriers,” he said.

“This year’s finalists will now continue their IWP journey, joining a prestigious alumni of more than 400 and will be presented with commercial opportunities via our Retail Partner Network.”

Dutch designer Borre Akkersdijk. Image-Woolmark.

Woolmark said BYBORRE works on the frontiers of material development, functionality and aesthetics to constantly innovate with engineered knits, pushing the limits of technical performance textiles. Starting with the design, materials and engineering of multi-layered fabrics, BYBORRE was awarded this year’s supply chain award as an innovator and trailblazer that continues to “empower designers in a bid to democratise the supply chain to ensure it remains accessible to all.”

Dutch designer Borre Akkersdijk said The International Woolmark Prize is an important stepping stone for the industry and a great example of how future talent “improving the world of tomorrow” can be better supported and promoted.

“Winning this prize for our efforts in the supply chain are not only a win for us but for all our partners doing the heavy lifting.

“It is so important to show all steps – from beginning to end – as there is innovation along the whole route that deserves a spotlight,” he said.

“For BYBORRE, this gives us extra energy and good attention to push further and lead more changes to come.”

Chinese fashion media director Shaway Yeh said the speciality of the Woolmark Prize is that it is the only fashion award celebrating the fibre and materials and nature – the animals, the soil, all the farmers in the supply chain.

“It’s not only celebrating human creativity, but also nature’s creativity.”

French model Caroline de Maigret said supporting the next generation of designers is always a good idea.

“Supporting them into creating for the better – not only for innovation but also for sustainability.”

The 2023 International Woolmark Prize finalists were: A. ROEGE HOVE, BLUEMARBLE, Lagos Space Programme, Marco Rambaldi, MAXXIJ, Paolina Russo, R H U D E and Robyn Lynch. Each showcased a commitment to upholding the prize’s pillars of product excellence, innovation, supply chain transparency, sustainability and inclusivity.


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