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LVMH Prize announces 2021 finalists

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

28 Apr 2021


courtesy of LVMH Prize; Christopher John Rogers, Colm Dillane, Conner Ives, Bianca Saunders, Nensi Dojaka, Vargas

American and London-based designers dominate the finalists for this year’s LVMH Prize, taking five of the nine slots, alongside the first Albanian and Colombian designers to reach the final stage of the competition.

The 2021 line-up includes menswear and womenswear labels, as well as two genderless lines, from a diverse selection from the UK, America, Columbia, Albania, China, France and South Africa, with three of the designers based in London.

The American contingent consisting of Christopher John Rogers, KidSuper designer Colm Dillane, and London-based Conner Ives, are joined by British designer Bianca Saunders and Albanian-born, London-based Nensi Dojaka, as well as Colombian designer Kika Vargas based in Bogota, France’s Charles de Vilmorin, Lukhanyo Mdingi from South Africa and Chinese designer Rui Zhou, behind the genderless Rui label.

In a statement, LVMH’s Delphine Arnault said: “The all-digital semi-final this year, in the context of the health crisis, was a new opportunity to showcase the work of the designers. I would like to salute their creativity, optimism and reactivity, and congratulate them all.

“This year, 9 designers (including 2 equally ranked semi-finalists) will go on to compete in the final of the LVMH Prize. The finalists come from China, France, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States and, for the first time, from Albania and Colombia. I particularly appreciated their great know-how and their strong environmental awareness.”

courtesy of LVMH Prize; Charles de Vilmorin, Lukhanyo Mdingi, Rui Zhou

America and London-based designers dominate 2021 LVMH Prize finalists

Commenting on being selected as one of the finalists: British designer Bianca Saunders, added in a statement: “I can’t believe I’m in the top nine. As a company that is steadily rising in such tough times, this gives the brand a huge boost. It has been a dream of mine to be recognised by such a prestigious prize. Being in the final stages with other talented designers is just so amazing!”

For the first time in the competition’s history, the public were asked to select their favourite designer from the 20 semi-finalists selected from the 1,900 candidates that applied. LVMH revealed that 32,000 people voted but didn’t reveal who the winner of the public vote was.

The public vote counted as one member of the 66-person “expert” panel that selected the finalists for the eighth edition.

The nine designers will now present their collections to the jury for the final at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in September.

The winner will take away a prize of 300,000 euros, while the runner-up Karl Lagerfeld Prize will receive 150,000 euros, with both winning a year of mentorship.

In addition, the luxury conglomerate will also reward three fashion school graduates, who either graduated in 2020 or 2021. Applications for this prize closes on May 30. The winners will join one of the group’s houses for one year.

The 2020 competition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and instead of one grand winner of the 300,000 euro prize fund, the money was instead “distributed evenly” between the eight finalists - Ahluwalia, Casablanca, Chopova Lowena, Nicholas Daley, Peter Do, Sindiso Khumalo, Tomo Koizymi, and Supriya Lele. Each of the designers also received one year of mentorship.

Since its launch, the LVMH Prize has boosted the careers of numerous young designers, who have won the coveted first prize and runner-up prizes, including Thebe Magugu, Masayuki Ino, Grace Wales Bonner, Rokh, Marine Serre, Kozaburo Akasaka, Vejas, Marques’Almeida, Jacquemus, Hood By Air and Miuniku.