Tuesday evening, a group of models, five women and five men, were standing in a lineup in a Chelsea photo studio, each holding the card of the designer they were wearing. Among them were a man with greased back hair wearing a tuxedo with a gray-check blazer, bow tie, and cropped trousers (in David Hart), a woman with an optic-motif skirt, tunic vest, and matching turban (in Tanya Taylor), and another man in a nomadic mishmash of shorts, bucket hat, smock jacket, and blue painted tromp l’oeil socks (in Thaddeus O’Neil).
These were the American finalists in their regional division of the International Woolmark Prize, each wearing looks their designers had created using merino wool from Australia in order to participate in the competition. Often, these kinds of design challenges can have curious results, but it was pretty clear that the designers had been able to retain their signatures. Taylor, who was named the winner of the women’s wear competition, loves a good turban moment, and here she rendered a knit one that looked like a sweater for your head.
Siki Im, a rising star of men’s wear, won the prize for that category with his sleek street wear-tinged suiting, which had a nice blend of tailoring (a striped blazer sans lapel) and softness (styled with a casual scarf in a charcoal suit fabric). Both designers and their winning looks are pictured, above.
Taylor says she plans to use the prize money (about $37,000 at current exchange rates) to strengthen her focus on developing knits locally in New York, where she works with partners like the American Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. She’s also developing her first pre-fall collection. Im, similarly, said he plans to invest in production and development.
Both designers will go on to compete for the top prize with regional winners from five other countries in 2016.