Indian designers Antar-Agni and Bodice have been announced as the menswear and womenswear winners, respectively, of the 2017/18 International Woolmark Prize Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East regional final, at an awards event held at the FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai.
A panel comprising Alison Tay - Editor, Grazia Middle East; Che Kurrien - Editor, GQ India; Nonita Kalra - Editor, Harper's Bazaar India; Daniel Higgins - Fashion Editor, Esquire Middle East; Manish Malhotra - Fashion Designer; Kirsten Lock - Fashion Director, ORDRE.COM; Laura Larbalestier - Buying Director, Boutique 1; and John Roberts - General Manager Eastern Hemisphere, The Woolmark Company selected Antar-Agni and Bodice as the winners.
"The International Woolmark Prize is always a great experience; the judging gets tougher every year as the quality of work from designers nominated keeps getting better,” explained International Woolmark Prize judge Manish Malhotra. “Young designers are now expressing themselves through their work in a way like never before. While womenswear winner Bodice scored high on adaptability, commercial viability and creativity of the look, menswear winner Antar-Agni created something true to his belief. We are keen to see how these designs will be received in the global market.”
Inspired by nomadic tribesmen from across India, Antar-Agni’s winning menswear look was created using multiple layers of woven twill, selected for its superior drape and comfort.
"We wanted to play with the idea of creating comfort clothing for the new-age man who juggles several roles. Think banker-by-day, traveller-by-the-weekend,” explained Ujjawal Dubey of his collection. “This process has really taught me so much over the past four months. I have developed a new-found appreciation for this incredible fibre. The mentoring and support have been the most valuable part of my experience so far.”
Bodice’s winning look took inspiration from the 18th Century costumes of Indian Nautch girls, contrasted by modern menswear tailoring. The wool fibre and the fabric were developed and finished in five different parts of India, highlighting indigenous and age-old crafts in a contemporary Bodice rendition.
“I am truly honoured to win this award because it gives Bodice the opportunity for real global expansion and provides the funding to allow me to create an incredible collection,” explained Bodice’s Ruchika Sachdeva.
Chosen from amongst the most promising fashion design talents from the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East, both winners gain a financial contribution of AU$70,000, plus the opportunity to compete in the prestigious international final. In addition, each winner will receive mentoring support from a global panel of experts along with being granted a Woolmark licence.
For the next six-to-seven months, the winning designers will be required to develop a capsule collection in Merino wool, to be showcased at an extraordinary event that will highlight the six menswear finalists and six womenswear finalists selected from across the globe.
The winners of the menswear and womenswear global finals will receive a further AU$200,000 to assist with fabric sourcing and marketing of their collection, as well as mentoring from industry experts. A third winner will also be selected at the global final as part of the newly introduced Innovation Award. In addition, the international winners will have the opportunity to have their collection distributed through the prize’s prestigious international retail partner network including Boon the Shop, S. Korea; Boutique 1, UAE; David Jones, Australia; De Bijenkorf, Amsterdam; Harvey Nichols, UK; Hudson’s Bay Company, Toronto; LECLAIREUR, Paris; Mytheresa.com; ORDRE and SSENSE.COM. The Woolmark Company also welcomes Farfetch as the latest retailer to join the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network.
The Woolmark Company has partnered with FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai for the International Woolmark Prize Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East regional final and is also pleased to have the support of makeup by MAC, TONI&GUY and ORDRE.com, along with multidisciplinary artist Jonathan Zawada who created the stunning trophies and decorative wares for each regional event.