Finding a way to make wool work in the summer was a challenge made all the more clear at the Woolmark Prize USA ceremony on a sweltering Tuesday evening. The 11 finalists— Cadet, Chris Gelinas, David Hart, Kaelen, Lucio Castro, Nellie Partow, Novis, Siki Im, Tanya Taylor, and Thaddeus O’Neil—gathered on the rooftop of Milk Studios for the occasion, where they each presented their designs. Jordana Warmflash of Novis took the mandate of creating a look from 80 percent wool as an opportunity to experiment with new techniques like hand knitting. Others, like Nellie Partow, were well within their comfort zones. But it was Siki Im and Tayna Taylor who took home the $50,000 cash prize, awarded by a panelist of judges including W’s own Editor in Chief Stefano Tonchi. “I’ve never won an award before! I’m the happiest person right now,” beamed Taylor after the announcement.
What’s next for these emerging designers? “I’ve got the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund ceremony tomorrow morning,” said crowd favorite Thaddeus O’Neil, who, like many of the men’s wear finalists, had just finished showing at New York Fashion Week: Men’s. “No rest for the weary,” he said. “But it’s a lot of fun.”