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Beyond the Bale : Jun - July 08
F rench fashion designer Sonia Rykiel has been announced as the official patron of the Australian Merino Woolmark Prize, to be launched in Paris in July. Heralded in the American press as the ‘Queen of Knits’, Sonia Rykiel launched her label in the early 1960s. She was the first designer to put seams on the outside of garments, and to print words onto sweaters. In 1980 she was voted one of the world’s 10 most elegant women and in 1985 she was awarded Légion d’honneur by the French Government. Sonia Rykiel has written a number of fashion-related and children’s books and runs her company with her daughter. The Woolmark Prize has been created to support young fashion designers. Awarding creativity in Merino wool, it is aimed at designers with more than two seasons of professional experience. The prize will be awarded at the opening of an exhibition presenting not just the work of the 10 finalists, but also 45 years of Woolmark in images. Sonia Rykiel will be joined by a panel of global fashion experts who have been selected to award the winner of the Woolmark Prize. They will convene early in July to begin the selection process. The jury is: ú +#7; Sally Singer – Vogue USA; ú +#7; Véronique Philipponnat – Elle France; ú +#7; Vanessa Friedman – Financial Times, UK; ú +#7; Gabrielle Hackworthy – V ogue China; ú +#7; Olivier Saillard – Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; ú +#7; Sarah Lerfel – Boutique Colette, Paris; ú +#7; Sarah Mower – Style.com; ú +#7; Valerie Steele – Fashion Institute of Technology, New York; and ú +#7; Terry Jones – i-D Magazine. The winner will receive help in sourcing material, production, presentation and promotion of a collection. In addition, high-end fashion boutique Colette, in Paris, will carry an exclusive stock of limited edition garments to be designed by the winner of The Woolmark Prize and produced in collaboration with Woolmark. The 10 finalists are: Louise Goldin (England), Rubecksenyamanaka (Norway/Japan), Tom Scott (US), Everlasting Sprout (Japan), Chrystl Fischer (Belgium), Qiu Hao (China), Shao Jia (China), Cooperativedesigns (Annalisa Dunn and Dorothée Hagemann) (England and Germany), Marielle Van de Ven (Holland) and Xavier Brisoux (France). ú More information: www.woolmark.com/prize Queen of Knits named Woolmark Prize patron 21 fAshion Beyond the Bale The prizewinners of the 1954 international Wool secretariat Competition included young designers Karl Lagerfeld (left), yves saint Laurent (centre) and Collette Bracchi (far right). Wool shines With a touch oF Gray young sydney-based fashion designer Ben Pollitt was so thrilled with the $10,000 prize money he received when awarded the L’oréal Melbourne fashion festival (LMff) Designer Award by Woolmark, he carried the cheque in his pockets for days. “i would get it out and have a look at it every now and then, just trying to soak it all in before i banked it,” he says. “you have no idea how much difference that sort of money makes to a small business like mine.” Ben is the man behind friedrich gray, an emerging fashion label that designs garments from natural fibres for men and women, and he says that while the boost to his funds was wonderful, the world the LMff Designer Award by Woolmark opened up to him has been the greatest prize. “it takes a huge amount of research to find fabrics and find techniques that suit your designs,” Ben says. “i started with whatever natural-fibre fabrics i could access, which originally was new Zealand wool. But much of my new spring/summer 2009 collection is Australian Merino and it will stay that way because Merino fits so well with what i want to achieve.” And that is sustainable clothing of high quality and manufacturing, which suits the 20 to 40-year-old ‘investment dresser’, who is seeking garments that work with their lifestyle, while being easy-to-wear and long lasting. for Ben, it is an exciting time in fashion and he feels he can now ride this wave with the support of AWi and Woolmark in what they are doing to promote wool as a sustainable, environmentally friendly fibre. “instead of wanting to buy 20 items of clothing per season, which could all be thrown away after six months, consumers today want five quality pieces which they will love and which will last them a lifetime. it’s a very identifiable change in the fashion industry.” At the recent Rosemount Australian fashion Week, friedrich gray launched its spring/summer 2009 collection – its third major collection – which Ben describes as taking inspiration from Roman and greek mythological heroes. The styling is feminine shapes involving draping of lightweight fabrics with an androgynous edge. “They are not clothes you would wear for a picnic in a park. More cutting- edge, city-type garments. All are manufactured from natural fibres such as Australian Merino, cotton, leather and silk, and the collection features innovative printing of images directly on to 100 per cent Merino fabric.” Ben’s outlook is not all city ‘walk and talk’. he comes from country roots. his great-grandfather, harry Clark, was a woolgrower at Cobar in western nsW, and Ben remembers many trips west to reunite with family members. “i went out there last year to escape the city, and it’s great to be reminded of how important the wool industry is. if i can promote the use of Australian fibres then that helps all of us.” After working as a fashion stylist in new york, Ben returned to sydney in 2006 with the vision for his own label based on meticulously selected fabrics and timeless cuts on a colour base of black. it is not an easy path, and makes Ben’s appreciation of the support from the wool industry even greater. “The designing takes about 15 per cent of my time … the rest is in sourcing fabrics, marketing, paperwork. Literally, the only place i go is to fashion Week events. The rest of the time i am in the studio working.” friedrich gray is currently stocked in boutiques including fat 4 and Alice Euphemia in Victoria, incu, The Corner shop and Capital L in nsW and Dirtbox, fallow and Bessie head in Queensland. – KELLiE PEnfoLD More information: www.friedrichgray.com PhoTo: KEysTonE EyEDEA hEADPREss Australian Protégé Ben Pollitt (second from right) backstage at Rosemount Australian fashion Week.
Jun - Jul 08 Supplement
Aug - Sep 08