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Richard Malone wins 2020 International Woolmark Prize

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

17 Feb 2020

London Fashion Week favourite Richard Malone beat off tough competition from the likes of A-Cold-Wall* and Bode to be crowned the 2020 International Woolmark Prize winner.

Malone, showcased a collection inspired by his upbringing in Wexford for the final that was praised by the judging panel for featuring "considered, functional and beautifully made garments that minimise harm to the environment and work towards creating a circular, sustainable fashion system".

The Irish designer eliminated traditional chemicals within his collection to provide a natural, less intensive method of dyeing, by working with a society of skilled weavers in Tamil Nadu, India, who used completely organic and plant-based dyes as well as more recent innovations using Merino wool and other conscious fibres.

“Winning the Woolmark Prize is completely unexpected,” said Malone after the show. “It means we can continue working with this supply chain and share our learning with other brands and designers. It also opens up the dialogue of fashion so more people can be part of it. Thank you to Australia’s woolgrowers for growing this incredible fibre.”

As winner, Malone was awarded with 200,000 Australian dollars.

Richard Malone and Bode crowned winners at International Woolmark Prize

As well as the International Woolmark Prize, the inaugural The Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation was presented, awarded to American designer Emily Adams Bode for her "outstanding creativity and innovation”, which Woolmark stated are the same characteristics which led to Lagerfeld’s award-winning and history-making success back in the 1954 awards.

The award was presented by Carine Roitfeld, the founder and editor-in-chief of CR Fashion Book, who said: “Bode's story of working with old pieces and transforming them took me back to my childhood. When I was young there was no fashion like there is today so I would go to the flea market and my mother and I would sew patches onto clothes to make them new. Bode’s collection reminds me of this time and I like that.”

For her Woolmark collection, Bode mixed deadstock fabrics found in abandoned factories, to create overcoats and suits composed of reclaimed and remade equine show blankets, traceable and certified Merino wool jacquard knits inspired by stitch samples from a retired 1930s knitting factory, and housecoats built from hundreds of individually crocheted Merino wool fleurettes.

Commenting on her win, Adams Bode said: “I’m really excited that this is the first Karl Lagerfeld Innovation Award. He’s been such an idol and inspiration for me. I’m also really excited to build on all the relationships I have made during my Woolmark Prize journey.”

As the innovation award winner, Bode also wins 100,000 Australian dollars.

The 2020 Woolmark Prize had 10 finalists: A-Cold-Wall* - UK; Blindness - South Korea; Bode - US; Botter - The Netherlands; Feng Chen Wang - China and UK; GmbH - Germany; Ludovic de Saint Sernin - France; Matthew Adams Dolan - US; Namacheko - Belgium; and Richard Malone - Ireland.

This year’s final was judged by a panel including Tim Blanks, Hamish Bowles, Sinead Burke, Edward Enninful, Kim Jones, Takashi Murakami, Holli Rogers, Anja Rubik and Shaway Yeh.

"What I'm loving this year is the use of wool mixed with sustainability,” explained Edward Enninful, editor of Vogue UK. "The Woolmark Prize for me is a sign of excellence; it puts designers on an international level.”

Image: courtesy of The Woolmark Company