Emotions ran high at the ANDAM on July 1st, as its president Pierre Bergé presented its founder Nathalie Dufour with the Légion d’Honneur as a preamble to this year’s award ceremony. Started in 1989 to promote young French design at the behest of the Ministry of Culture and supported by the Ministry of Industry through the DEFI fund, the ANDAM has since distinguished a host of talents starting with 1989 winner Maison Martin Margiela and since then AMI’s Alexandre Mattiussi, Julien David, Patrick Van Ommeslaeghe, Jeremy Scott or more recently Courrèges’ artistic directors as Coperni, Iris Van Herpen or Yiqing Yin but also artists such as Erik Halley.
But I digress. The future of fashion is what Nathalie Dufour has been defending and while eyes were still bright with this glittering moment, the 2016 Grand Prize and its €250,000 purse money was scooped by Joanna Semyk whose label Wanda Nylon is every bit the cool Parisian sensation expected of someone who was also nominated for the LVMH prize.
When she started the brand in 2012, Wanda Nylon was all about redefined rainwear, elevating with a kind of innocent yet fetichistic attention to details such as transparencies and sultry cuts. The fact that her silhouettes oscillated somewhere between Helmut Newton and Courrèges whetted appetites for what else she could bring. Soon enough, the brand was a hot commodity in the fashion capital, and elsewhere, not least because the material she developed improved the lifespan of her pieces dramatically.
With 2015 a year of great change – founding member Peter Hornstein left the company, menswear was shelved and Wanda Nylon had its first runway show during September’s Fashion Week – 2016 is shaping to be a year to remember with the recently launched La Redoute collaboration and now the ANDAM Grand Prize.
Antonin Tron‘s CV is certainly easy on the eyes. A Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp graduate, he has worked at Givenchy, Louis Vuitton and Ghèsquière’s Balenciaga. He now freelances there under Demna Gvasalia. His debut collection under his own label Atlein attracted the kind of reviews that are any introductory collection’s wet dream.
Cut from high quality jersey, his silhouettes are exactly what any busy woman could desire in her wardrobe: feminine pieces that pack as well as they look on the body. Tron doesn’t aim to be a flash in the fashion pan, nor use Atlein to parlay a better position for himself in hallowed houses. His path lies on a slow and stead upwards incline. And for those who may doubt the durability of a brand built on this humble material alone, think of only one thing: Gabrielle Chanel started an empire out of this.
The accessories winner felt slightly more puzzling. Its more modest purse of €40,000 went to Emmanuel Thomasini, formerly global head of communications at Guiseppe Zanotti and now bag designer at his eponymous brand Thomasini Paris. He wowed the jury with simple designs playing on lines and squares. There is no doubt something to be said about less being more, as Atlein’s win attests but when it comes to accessories, our eyes are firmly attracted to design intensive pieces.