2012 July 10
The Woolmark Prize Recap! Sophie Theallet Wins, Linda Fargo Dishes on Judging
Billy Farrell Agency View Gallery
(NEW YORK) Brands aren’t the only ones that deserve reduxes—ahem, Schiaparelli much?—as evidenced by the return of The Woolmark Prize, the design competition that kickstarted the careers of icons like Karl Lagerfeld and YSL. Yesterday, the 10 U.S. regional prize finalists gathered in NYC with the coterie of major industry figures serving as judges: the CFDA’s Steven Kolb, Calvin Klein’s Malcolm Carfrae, T mag’s Sally Singer, Narciso Rodriguez, and Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo. “It is an important time in American fashion: 20 years ago we wouldn’t have even been invited to participate in this,” said Kolb during yesterday’s announcement of the winner. “Now we have a chance to really show the talent and creativity [here].” The lucky designer to nab national honors? Sophie Theallet, who harkened back to her predecessors in her acceptance remarks: “my grandfather owned a wool factory in the South of France, and today this prize is his.” As for that namesake material? “Knitwear is about cuddling and love…It’s something very dear to my heart!” The Daily caught up with Fargo for the inside scoop on the Woolmark’s return…
What was the judging experience like, Linda?
I didn’t want to eliminate anybody! I’ve been exposed to all of these designers at various moments during their presentations or their seasons, or in their showrooms. But it was different because they had 15 minutes to tell us about themselves, their business, their aspirations, and what they’d do if they won the prize and what it would mean to them. Prizes aside, it was a really valuable day.
We carry a number of the designers at Bergdorf’s, but this firmed up my resolve to take a harder, second and third look at a few more people. Even if they don’t win the Woolmark Prize they are going to get a more serious Bergdorf’s walk through.
Lucky them! So what were you looking for?
You’re always looking for design and a designer; I really don’t want to separate those things. It’s about marrying originality and quality.
How does wool weave its way into things?
Obviously the designers’ ability to use and interpret the sponsoring material—wool—factors in, but I don’t think that is what you’re supposed to see first.
So what should pop out?
You always should see the originality. We’re also concerned how our winner will play on a global stage—that’s the way we live now. It is not just about the United States.
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