An Inside Look at This Year’s Woolmark Prize Nominees

For months now, buzzy labels like Monse and Pyer Moss have been hard at work assembling Merino wool-based capsule collections, hoping they’ll follow in the line of previous precocious designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld – that is to say, that they’ll take home the prestigious International Woolmark Prize. With a panel of judges like André Leon Talley, Maxwell Osborne, and Jason Wu (plus, W’s Stefano Tonchi) making the final call, research has been taken especially seriously: Abasi Rosborough said it carried it back tens of thousands of years, while for Gabriela Hearst, the material’s long been in the family. (She grew up on a sheep ranch in Uruguay.) Before they go on to compete in Paris and London next year, preview the winning American collections with inspirations from hot newcomers like Second/Layer to the former competitive boxer Nellie Partow.

Courtesy of Pyer Moss.

Pyer Moss “Our Land Too.”

Courtesy of Gabriela Hearst.

Gabriela Hearst “I design for a real woman, alluring and powerful, but there is much action in her life and these clothes are her uniform and armor. A woman who understands her intuition and is aware of her strength. [Italian writer] Oriana Fallaci inspired my collection – she not only was one of the best journalists of our time but also exhibited extraordinary courage and had intuition into the matters that affect the world today. She embodies the values of the woman that inspire me. Having grown up on my family sheep ranch, wool has always been an integral part of my life and knitwear is the cornerstone of my collection. Bringing innovation and dressing the modern woman with such a complete yarn as merino wool, is both a passion and a duty.”

Courtesy of Hellessy.

Hellessy “24/7 day to night / night to day always on the move”

Courtesy of Abasi Rosborough.

Abasi Rosborough “When we found out we were nominated for the Woolmark prize, we began to research the relationship between humans and wool, looking back tens of thousands of years. Our most interesting conversations revolved around this nearly eternal relationship intertwined across history, looking deep into the past and the future, and this inspired our design work.”

Courtesy of Second/Layer.

Second/Layer “Behind the Curtain: Inspired by the challenges and hands behind the development process.”

Courtesy of Matiere.

Matiere “Utility meets contemporary luxury.”

Courtesy of Sally LaPointe.

Sally LaPointe “The concept is the idea of ‘stripped’. I wanted to present a look that was bold, honest, and stripped of all excess. I documented my everyday surroundings with a Polaroid. These photos, stripped of their context, became the inspiration for fabric development and ultimately the look.”

Courtesy of Monse.

Monse “To continue the unlocking of our DNA, we chose a houndstooth print combined with our faithful stripes and a technique we had never developed in a wool before.”

Courtesy of Rochambeau.

Rochambeau “The inspiration for our Woolmark Prize collection is post-9/11 New York City – a surreal moment in our city’s history where tomorrow wasn’t promised. In the aftermath of tragedy a movement of artists, photographers, and graffiti artists emerged using the city as a their creative playground. We took specific reference from the outlaw energy of Dash Snow. Dash arose as the leader of this creative movement – pulling off the boldest tags, inspiring his peers, and pushing stylistic boundaries that posthumously rendered him a fashion icon. Our look is someone who is fearless, confronting death and in his path creating art that would come to define this period. Signature pieces like his biker vest, his face wrapped with a bandana, and often genderless use of layers combine to personify a NYC legend.”

Courtesy of Nellie Partow.

Nellie Partow “The Woolmark collection has been inspired by the architecture of both form, as well as the architecture of the human body. As a former competitive boxer, I have always been inspired by the architecture of the human body, which is prevalent in the linear detailing throughout the collection.”