Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,
Last night at Polimoda’s beautiful Villa Favard, six designers from around the world presented their capsule men’s collections to an audience of the highest calibre. Indeed it was the final of the Menswear edition of the International Woolmark Prize. On the panel this year and in attendance were the likes of Haider Ackermann, Suzy Menkes, Linda Loppa, Imran Amed, Raffaello Napoleone of Pitti Imagine, and of course Mr Stuart McCullough from Woolmark. Together they unanimously decided to award Suket Dhir for his brand SUKETDHIR the winner, his collection used elements of his Indian culture in a clear way though without taking it too far. Men’s tunics in wool were so fine they moved like silk, and worn under beautifully tailored jackets. Dhir also used traditional Ikat dying techniques to create his progressive gradients in shades of blue or brown, offset by a canary yellow peeping out here and there from the lining or down the spine of his final coat. It was not overcomplicated or overembellished, but an honest transcultural proposal that seemed very personal to the designer. Humble and composed when receiving his award, Dhir completely attributed his success to his wife.
The Prize not only brings financial rewards to the designer, as well as press and notoriety, but also the SUKETDHIR collection will now be stocked in the most important stores worldwide, including Harvey Nichols, 10 Corso Como, Joyce Boutique, Saks Fifth Avenue, David Jones, and Mytheresa.com and Matchesfashion.com. This connection with retailers is perhaps the most significant and enduring achievement for a new designer starting out.
The Woolmark Company is the only organisation I know of that begins its work with the actual sheep and continues right in the stores. When people talk about the questionable production chain of so many textiles or brands, even, The Woolmark Company stands out for it’s initiatives across every stage of the process, beginning with the Australian Wool Innovation as the parent non-for-profit enterprise that’s owned by more than 25,000 Australian woolgrowers. Then, on the other end of the continuum we have this award, whose prestige is undeniable, but also is the integrity.
Photography by Giovanni Giannoni / Woolmark