I was lucky enough to be invited to the International Woolmark Prize, which is one of the world's greatest supporters of young design. The winner of the Prize, one of six finalists, receives $100,000 and an order from supporting retail giants like Bergdorf Goodman, Harvey Nichols and 10 Corso Como. Basically, it's a big — and career making — deal. An even bigger deal: the judges. Diane Von Furstenberg, Carla Sozzani, Victoria Beckham and the ultimate in fashion fabulous, Donatella Versace, were all enlisted to vote on the winner. It was pretty fantastic to see these epic ladies all together, to support young designers who may, one day, be household names themselves.
The six finalists each represented a different country — from Japan to Australia — and all had something individual to say. I won't lie and say I wasn't cheering for Australia's Dion Lee, whose sinuous dresses and coats are a feat of precision tailoring. But he was in great company: representing the United States was the charming Frenchie, Sophie Theallet, and, in a "where did he come from?" moment, appeared Belgian designer Christian Wijnants. Wignants, who works primarily with knits, presented a small collection of sculptural sweaters, dresses and coats in gradations of both color and knit that had Victoria Beckham asking him exactly how he did it.
In the end, it was unanimous. Wijnants was the winner - not just for his knits, but for his elegance and, yes, his wit. We will be hearing much more of him. Congratulations.