Jonathan Christopher winner of the 2015/16 International Woolmark Prize Europe regional final, at an awards event held in Antwerp, Belgium, hosted by MoMu – Fashion Museum Province of Antwerp and the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp.
A judging panel comprising Walter Van Beirendonck, Simon Chilvers, Veerle Windels, James Sleaford and Fabrizio Servente selected Jonathan Christopher as the menswear winner. Nanna Van Blaaderen was selected by An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx (Designers of A.F. Vandevorst), Justin O’Shea, Christiane Arp, John de Greef and Colin McDowell as the winner for the womenswear category.
“The judges’ choice for the menswear winner was unanimous,” explained Walter Van Beirendonck. “Jonathan came into the room with a true fashion focus; we all appreciated his innovation with Merino wool and use of materials. He fully embodied our criteria to showcase the best in wool and showed us his vision.”
Jonathan Christopher said of his win: “To be honoured with such an award, from such a distinguished jury and with all the amazing designers that have come before me, is indescribable. Wool plays a very large part in my collections; it’s so versatile. At the moment I’m working with wool denim, one of the most current and innovative trends in wool.”
“I am overwhelmed,” said Nanna Van Blaaderen. “I have always worked with wool and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Chosen from amongst the 17 most promising talents in European fashion design, both winners gain a financial contribution of AU$50,000 (approximately €33,900), plus the opportunity to represent Europe and compete in the prestigious international final. The final for menswear will be held in Florence in January 2016, and the womenswear final will be held in New York in February 2016.
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 one of two extraordinary events that will highlight the six menswear finalists and six womenswear finalists selected from across the globe.
The finalists will compete for the coveted International Woolmark Prize, the winners being awarded an additional AU$100,000 (approximately €67,8001) and the opportunity to be stocked in the most important retailers of the world, including Harvey Nichols (London), 10 Corso Como (Milan, Beijing and Shanghai), Matchesfashion.com (online), Mytheresa.com (online), Saks Fifth Avenue (NYC), Joyce (China), Isetan Mitsukoshi (Japan), Boutique 1 (UAE) and David Jones (Australia).
The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough explains: “The International Woolmark Prize is our commitment to educating the next generation of fashion industry leaders about the extraordinary potential of Merino wool, and we congratulate Jonathan Christopher and Nanna Van Blaaderen on their win.
With the number of countries represented the largest yet, the International Woolmark Prize is a truly global celebration of emerging talent and most importantly provides the winning designers with a unique opportunity for commercial success on a global scale.”