Bodice, DYNE, Matthew Miller win Woolmark Prize

Indian designer Ruchika Sachdeva, with her Bodice label, and British designer Matthew Miller, have been awarded the International Woolmark Prize 2017-18 respectively for womenswear and menswear. For the first time, an Innovation Prize was also awarded this year, to US designer Christopher Bevans and his DYNE label.


Left to right: Ruchika Sachdeva, Christopher Bevans and Matthew Miller - Pitti Immagine

The three winners, who were feted on Tuesday in Florence, on the opening day of Pitti Uomo, are linked by a common thread of maturity and experience. They are all aged between 30 and 40 and their collections are already available at multibrand stores worldwide.

Ruchika Sachdeva, 30, is the youngest of the three. New Delhi-born, Sachdeva has now returned to India after living for a time in London, where she graduated at the London College of Fashion and worked for Vivienne Westwood and Giles Deacon.

"I've always loved textiles. I mostly use Indian fabrics," the designer told FashionNetwork.com. Her style is understated, at once sophisticated and comfortable, reinterpreting very subtly her native country's dress codes. Her label, Bodice, was launched in 2011 in New Delhi and is available at 30 multibrand retailers, mostly in India.

In the menswear category, Matthew Miller, 35, won over the judges with his own take on men's fashion, blending a tailored style with sportswear, while exploring the contemporary world's impact on men's apparel. Miller hails from Stoke-on-Trent, a town in northern England renowned for its pottery, a craft which he gave up to specialise in menswear.

After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London, Miller worked for and collaborated with a host of brands, from Brioni to Nike. His label was launched in 2010, and is now distributed via about fifteen elite retailers, including the Dover Street Market.

From the 2017-18 edition, the Woolmark Prize also features an Innovation award, sponsored by Fashion Tech Lab. The latter is an investment company founded by Miroslava Duma, focusing on sustainable development and technological innovation in the fashion industry.


Looks by the twelve Woolmark Prize 2017-18 finalists, on show at the Stazione Leopolda venue in Florence - Pitti Immagine

The first winner of the Woolmark Prize's new award is US designer Christopher Bevans. His hallmark is technology, each of his creations being equipped with an electronic chip which can connect to smartphones, to deliver all sorts of digital information and content.

Some of the weatherproof jackets he designed for the competition were fitted with such chips, allowing winter sports aficionados wearing the jackets to be located in case of an avalanche. Other items were equipped with reflective bands, or incorporated smart fabrics with antimicrobial and antiperspirant properties.

Christopher Bevans, 45, was born in New York, the son of a Jamaican mother and Belizean father. He has breathed fashion since childhood, and learned his craft by doing. "I grew up in the shadow of my seamstress grandmother and her sewing machine. I've always worked in the industry, for fabric manufacturers, for brands like Nike, and with artists such as Pharrell Williams and Kanye West," he told FashionNetwork.com.

He tagged his menswear label, DYNE, as "luxury sportswear." DYNE was created in 2014 and is available at 50 multibrand retailers worldwide, from the USA to Japan - its main market - to China, Hong Kong and Dubai.

Translated by Nicola Mira

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