Christian Winjants, a 34-year-old knitwear designer based in Antwerp, Belgium, has been announced as the winner of the International Woolmark Prize European Award which was re-launched this year to help promote outstanding design talent from around the world, and through its design innovations inspire and educate consumers on the natural beauty of Merino wool.
Seventeen of the most talented European designers vied for the award today including Andrea Incontri, Andrea Pompilio, Anthony Vaccarello, Co/Te Italy, Hana Zarubova, House of Dagmar, Ipek Arnas, James Long, Jan Taminiau, Maria Barros, JW Anderson, Michael Sontag, Moses Nieto, Nina Skarra, Niyazi Erdoğan, Olympis Le-Tan, and Zdeňka Imreczeova.
Christian Winjants was selected as the winner by industry figures Alber Elbaz - Artistic Director for Lanvin; Alexandra Schulman – Editor Vogue UK; Christiane Arp – Editor Vogue Germany; Dean & Dan Caten – DSQUARED2, Giles Deacon, and Tim Blanks – Editor at Large Style.com.
“Christian’s work was right for the project, it was about knitwear, construction and technique,” Alber Elbaz said.
“The International Woolmark Prize has generated worldwide attention as more partners, retailers and media align themselves and their brands to help promote the outstanding talent that has been sourced from around the world,” explained Stuart McCullough, CEO of Australian Wool Innovation, owner of The Woolmark Company.
“It has been a tough decision today and we look forward to supporting and working with Christian Winjants in the lead up to the finals in February where they have the chance to be awarded with the once in a lifetime opportunities that are on offer for the winner of the International Woolmark Prize.”
Commenting on yesterday’s judging, Christiane Arp said:
“Today it was wonderful to see that merino wool is such an emotional fibre; we saw it in so many ways it can be used”.
There are five regional competitions - USA, Europe, China, Australia and India – over 70 nominees across 15 countries began the journey in 2012 which will come down to one designer as judged by the most important and influential fashion industry representatives across the globe.
The winners of each regional competition receive a financial grant and will travel to London courtesy of The Woolmark Company to London Fashion Week in February 2013 where they will present an entire capsule collection of Australian Merino wool and an international winner will be selected.
The international winner will have his/her designs stocked by leading global retailers including Bergdorf Goodman in the USA, Harvey Nichols in the UK, 10 Corso Como in Italy, Joyce in China, Eickoff in Germany and David Jones in Australia.
“I am very pleased and honoured for the respect I have received from the judges… We are human beings and it’s important for us to stay true to the natural fibre and what nature has to offer,” Winjants said.
After graduating in 2000 from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Winjants went on to win the Grand Prix at Festival de Hyeres in France, after which he started selling his collections in-store at Colette in Paris, Pineal Eye in London, Via Bus Stop in Tokyo and Henri Bendel in New York.
After working as creative assistant for Dries Van Noten in Antwerp and Angelo Tarlazzi in Paris, Winjants then launched his own brand in 2003. His collections have been presented during Paris fashion week for more than 18 seasons and are sold in more than 60 stores across the world.
The International Woolmark Prize has been supported internationally by key fashion councils including the Council of Fashion Designers America, British Fashion Council, Chambre Syndicale De La Couture, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Madrid and Premsela Foundation.
The Woolmark brand is owned by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), a not-for-profit company owned by over 29,000 woolgrowers. AWI’s vision is to be a significant contributor to a vibrant, stable and profitable wool industry providing the world with the best natural fibre. The company works throughout the global supply chain – from woolgrowers through to retailers.
Author: Billy Hunter