Matthew Miller and Bodice - from the British Isles and India - were announced the winners of the menswear and womenswear 2017-2018 International Woolmark Prize, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence. In addition, the USA’s DYNE was announced the winner of the inaugural Innovation Award.
The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Liya Kebede, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network.
For Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief Emanuele Farneti, Matthew Miller presented a well-balanced collection with attractive price points. “He showed a good combination between innovation, commercial viability and pieces which will be worn by men on the street.”
Inspired by designer and philosopher Dieter Rams, British designer Matthew Miller took the idea ‘form follows function’ to add multifunctional elements for different environments, such as the addition of the garment belt system which acts as a way to turn the garment into an accessory in warmer climates. Miller treated wool in a variety of ways, including innovative treatments to create water resistant fabrics and has erased the need for plastic fastenings by using recycled material, such as waste marble. Using Australian Merino wool ranging from 17.5 to 20.5 microns, the Matthew Miller multi-layered collection reflects the label’s design philosophy, developing the inherent character of each piece. “Winning this award is amazing, it’s a dream come true,” said Matthew Miller of his win. “To be listed alongside the previous winners of this prize is next level.”
Bodice was selected as the womenswear winner, praised for technique and manufacturing process. Inspired by her grandmother who used to upcycle sarees into quilts, Bodice addressed the issue of consumer waste in fashion with traditional techniques of recycling and cultural beliefs in the spiritual power of cloth to affect our wellbeing. Collaborating with hand weavers and encouraging them to take an unorthodox approach to traditional techniques, Ruchika Sachdeva produced an elegant collection honouring Australian Merino wool and the artisans of her country. Bodice also worked with Bio-Dye in Sawantwadi, central India, which makes all colours from natural sources. The colour palette of navy and forest green mixed with pink and green pastels contains natural dyes and are safe for the skin - a nod to the ancient practices of Ayurveda. Completing the label’s holistic approach, Bodice sourced buttons from renewable sources of coconut shell, seashell and wood.