by Stephen Garner

Ireland’s Richard Malone was announced the winner of the 2020 International Woolmark Prize at an event during London Fashion Week. Bode is also celebrating after winning the inaugural Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation.

Held at London Fashion Week, this year’s final was judged by a highly esteemed panel comprised of Tim Blanks, Hamish Bowles, Sinead Burke, Edward Enninful OBE, Kim Jones, Takashi Murakami, Holli Rogers, Anja Rubik, and Shaway Yeh.

“What I’m loving this year is the use of wool mixed with sustainability,” explained Edward Enninful OBE. “The Woolmark Prize for me is a sign of excellence; it puts designers on an international level.”

Richard Malone created a collection inspired by his upbringing in Wexford to create considered, functional and beautifully made garments that minimize harm to our environment and works towards creating a circular, sustainable fashion system.

Eliminating traditional chemicals to provide a natural, less intensive method of dyeing, the Irish designer worked with a society of incredibly skilled weavers in Tamil Nadu, India, using completely organic and plant-based dyes as well as more recent innovations using Merino wool and other conscious fibers.

Richard Malone

“Winning the Woolmark Prize is completely unexpected,” said Malone after the show. “It means we can continue working with this supply chain and share our learning with other brands and designers. It also opens up the dialogue of fashion so more people can be part of it. Thank you to Australia’s woolgrowers for growing this incredible fiber.”

Each finalist created a sustainability roadmap and presented traceable collections using technology from platform partner Provenance. By focusing on transparency and sharing key product information, each designer brings the supply chain to the shopper in a way that’s secure, trustworthy and accessible.

Emily Adams Bode was crowned the first winner of The Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation and was praised for outstanding creativity and innovation, the same characteristics which led to Lagerfeld’s award-winning and history-making success back in the 1954 awards. The award was presented to Bode by Carine Roitfeld, the founder and editor-in-chief of CR Fashion Book.

“Bode’s story of working with old pieces and transforming them took me back to my childhood,” said Roitfeld. “When I was young there was no fashion like there is today so I would go to the flea market and my mother and I would sew patches onto clothes to make them new. Bode’s collection reminds me of this time and I like that.”

Emily Adams Bode

Mixing deadstock fabrics found in abandoned factories, Bode beautifully marries the old with new to bring modern interpretations to traditions of the past. For the International Woolmark Prize, Bode features overcoats and suits composed of reclaimed and remade equine show blankets, traceable and certified Merino wool jacquard knits inspired by stitch samples from a retired 1930s knitting factory, and housecoats built from hundreds of individually crocheted Merino wool fleurettes.

“I’m really excited that this is the first Karl Lagerfeld Innovation Award,” said Adams Bode. “He’s been such an idol and inspiration for me. I’m also really excited to build on all the relationships I have made during my Woolmark Prize journey.”

The 10 finalists at this year’s award were: A-Cold-Wall* – United Kingdom; Blindness – South Korea; Bode – USA; Botter – The Netherlands; Feng Chen Wang – China and United Kingdom; GmbH – Germany; Ludovic de Saint Sernin – France; Matthew Adams Dolan – USA; Namacheko – Belgium; and Richard Malone – Ireland.

Each finalist will also continue their International Woolmark Prize journey, joining a prestigious alumni of more than 400, and will also be presented with commercial opportunities via the Retail Partner Network, with collections to be commercially available September 2020. In addition, Richard Malone and Bode have also been awarded AU$200,000 (Approx. $US130,000) and AU$100,000 (Approx. $US65,000) respectively.