LVMH has announced this year's eight finalists in the running to receive the coveted LVMH Prize.
The LVMH Prize, which honors and supports young fashion designers around the world, was created six years ago. This year's finalists are the most diverse group to date, with young talents from Israel, Nigeria, and South Africa included for the first time.
Executive vice president of Louis Vuitton and the founder of the LVMH Prize, Delphine Arnault, told Vogue, “Each new edition brings its lot of firsts. It goes to show the reach of the Prize on the one hand, and on the other, the reach of fashion, its ability to touch more and more people, thanks in part to the internet. It is truly a unifying dynamic. This year we received more than 1,700 applications, a record.”
The finalists are also unified by their individual approaches to sustainability. Most of them, Arnault says, integrate upcycling into their work. She explains that while a candidate's creativity comes first and foremost, "if it is combined with an ethical and environmental awareness at the service of creation, then so much the better.”
The finalists are as follows:
ANREALAGE by Kunihiko Morinaga
ANREALAGE is a Tokyo-based label that shows its womenswear in Paris. Designer Kunihiko Morinaga is known for his deconstruction of color, with fabrics on dresses that change when exposed to UV lights, and for conceptual details, such as the FW19 collection, which magnified details like buttons and zippers by about 300 percent to mimic the way we view clothes on an iPhone screen.
British designer Bethany Williams creates gender-neutral fashion and shows her collections in London. Earlier this year, Williams received the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. All of Williams' sustainable designs use recycled materials and are often manufactured using charity services, such as the Manx Workshop for the Disabled on the Isle of Man, which helps people with physical or mental disabilities to find work.
BODE by Emily Adams Bode
Emily Bode has been on Highsnobiety's radar for a while. The New York-based menswear designer is known for her quilting, embroidered patches, and vintage-sourced fabrics and patterns. Her recent FW19 presentation at New York Fashion Week featured many grail-worthy collector's items, notably a transparent corduroy-collared PVC raincoat filled with pennies and milk caps.
Tel Aviv-based designer Hed Mayner is creating gender-neutral fashion that shows in Paris. Influenced by traditional Orthodox Jewish tailoring and military outerwear, Mayner's recent FW19 collection presented the idea of wearing clothes that don't fit, uncovering radically unexpected proportions and new, surprisingly wearable silhouettes.
Kenneth Ize by Kenneth Izedonmwen
Nigerian designer Kenneth Izedonmwen's gender-neutral fashion label is based in and shows in Lagos. Izedonmwen's brightly colored tailoring is heavily influenced by the traditional Nigerian hand-loomed fabric known as aso oke, which is used in collections that have drawn high-profile cosigns from supermodel Naomi Campbell.
PHIPPS by Spencer Phipps
American designer Spencer Phipps creates gender-neutral fashion and is based in Paris. Before launching his label a few seasons ago, Phipps worked on the menswear design team at Marc Jacobs and then at Dries Van Noten's Antwerp atelier. PHIPPS puts nature and the great outdoors at the forefront, aiming to educate the wearer about extinct animals or anthropological ideas. This nature-facing design language is backed up by transparent, sustainable business practices and ethically sourced materials.
Stefan Cooke by Stefan Cooke & Jake Burt
British menswear designers Stefan Cooke and Jake Burt are based in London, where they show at talent incubator Fashion East at London Fashion Week Men’s. The garments reject the luxe streetwear trend in favor of more traditional menswear. Speaking to The Business of Fashion, co-creative director Burt said, “A lot of people are saying that there’s going to be that resurgence of a man who wants tailoring and nice trousers without the hype." And if you look at his label's finely made clothes, that seems like a very real possibility.
South African womenswear designer Thebe Magugu is based in Johannesburg, where he launched his namesake label in 2015. Magugu has cited the powerful women in his life as the inspiration for his designs, which spark wider sociopolitical conversations about women's status in his home country while also challenging preconceptions about the aesthetics of African design. _
The winner of the LMVH Prize will be announced in June. It will mark the first time Karl Lagerfeld, who passed away last month, has not been on the jury.