When two unknown designers took home the Woolmark prize in 1954 – a 21-year-old Karl Lagerfeld and 18-year-old Yves Saint Laurent – the Woolmark Company was officially put on the map for their knack of recognizing and discovering creative talent. This year, the company, which is dedicated to the cultivation of Australian merino wool and known for their prestigious competition, awarded their prize to British design duo Rob Jones and Catherine Teatum of Teatum Jones for their modern, yet whimsically folkloric use of the fabric.
"They have an in-depth storytelling," remarked Thakoon Panichgul, one of the members of the judging panel, which included W editor in chief Stefano Tonchi, the fashion writers André Leon Talley and Tim Blanks, and Saks Fifth Avenue's Roopal Patel. "They go through the design process in a very romantic way." The other finalists were Tanya Taylor, J Koo, Bianca Spender, Nanna van Blaaderen, and Taller Marmo.
Teatum and Jones, who started their namesake line four and a half years ago after meeting at an Italian menswear company, created a functional capsule collection of skirts, sweaters, and outerwear that was inspired by traditional blanket embroidery from the mid-1800's. "We would go through the archives at the mills, and talk to the milliners about what the local dress was like back then," explained Teatum of designing the collection, which took five months to create. As for a few images that made it onto their inspiration board? "Photographs of women against white-washed walls from the 1800's and thatched roofs."