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July 22 2014

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Altuzarra Wins The U.S. Woolmark Prize

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Joseph Altuzarra and his winning look for Woolmark“So, who do you think’s in the lead?” said CFDA CEO Steven Kolb to Joseph Altuzarra—patting him on the back—before taking the stage to announce the International Woolmark Prize’s stateside winner at New York’s Industria Superstudio last night. Kolb’s pre-reveal grin was a tell, as he later disclosed that the panel of judges, which included Kolb, Alexander Wang, Stefano Tonchi, Saks Fifth Avenue’s Colleen Sherin, and others, had selected Altuzarra as the 2013 victor. “I’m really stunned and very, very, very happy,” Altuzarra told Style.com while clasping his trophy. And why wouldn’t he be? In addition to winning $100,000 (the designer plans to put it toward his Pre-Fall collection), Altuzarra will continue on to represent the U.S. in the international competition, which, set to culminate during Milan Fashion Week in February, affords him the chance to double his money and earn new stockists. “Now I’m really going to fight for the U.S.!” he said before turning to chat with a line of journalists.

For the contest, Altuzarra and his nine competitors (Wes Gordon, Creatures of the Wind, Whit, Bibhu Mohapatra, Daniel Vosovic, Giulietta, Ohne Titel, Timo Weiland, and Tucker), designed looks from merino wool. His ensemble comprised a sweetly fuzzy pale pink alpaca-blend pencil skirt and textural sweater jacket. “I was inspired by iconic wool pieces from different eras,” offered Altuzarra. For instance, the sleeves of his topper fused an Irish fisherman knit with a technique he refers to as “needle punching,” which helped him to seamlessly blend the fibers.

But while Altuzarra’s outfit was undoubtedly a stunner, the competition was stiff. Wes Gordon, for instance, produced a tailored ivory merino-cashmere-blend coat with “lots of flare, bias, and drape.” It looked like a flower opening around the model’s body. Don’t be surprised if you see it—or something similar—during the designer’s debut catwalk show in September. Whit’s Whitney Pozgay took a colorful approach, embracing her love of print in a featherlight wool frock. “It has forty-three pattern pieces,” she said of the dress, which was inspired by the work of Ellsworth Kelly.

Creatures of the Wind’s Christopher Peters and Shane Gabier created a gray-and-black gown with notes of menswear tailoring, the slick lines of which were complemented by saucy knee-high knit socks. “This is one of the oldest fashion prizes, so it’s really cool to be a part of that history, regardless of what happens,” offered Peters. Last month, The Dock Group made a major investment in the on-the-rise duo’s brand, and the designers noted that they’re still adjusting to the success. “Now we can really focus on developing the collection, and on producing our own prints, creating motifs, embroidery…” said Gabier. “But for a while, I was like, What are we going to do with all our time now that we have people helping us?” With the introduction of knitwear, as well as a Spring ’14 collection that, according to Peters, will be “bigger than ever,” we have a feeling they’ll be able to keep busy.

Photo: BFAnyc.com

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