26 posts tagged "Thomas Tait"
It’s the 300,000 euro question: Why did Thomas Tait win the inaugural LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers? What sets him apart from all the other qualified finalists? After his victory yesterday afternoon, Tait told me he had no idea. “I was shocked,” admitted the London-based 26-year-old.
To be honest, I was not.
When I attended my first Tait show back in 2011, I had a feeling he was going to be “big.” Maybe it was because the then-24-year-old designer—the youngest to graduate from Central Saint Martins’ prestigious MA Fashion program—had managed to draw hugely important buyers from hugely important stores to his second-ever show. Perhaps it was the fact that his strict yet subtle designs were so entirely different than the work of his often-eccentric LFW peers. But sitting in that presentation, you could feel that you were witnessing the beginning of something special.
The Canadian-born talent launched his line back in 2010, and quickly earned sponsorship from the BFC’s NEWGEN. He’s carried by such retailers as Jeffrey, Louis Boston, and 10 Corso Como, and has a knack for convincing top editors to trek to the most inconvenient, albeit spectacular, London show spaces, like an abandoned grass-filled warehouse or a graffitied skate park. His success is made all the more impressive by the fact that his East London studio was founded with no independent financial backing and boasts only one full-time employee. “I’d like to grow it, as quickly as possible!” the designer laughed over the phone. “It’s really small-time.”
That may be the case, but Tait’s vision and dedication to doing things properly is anything but. “I told LVMH I have goals and, regardless of whether I win the prize, I’m going to go after them,” he explained. “Now they might happen sooner and smoother than I had planned. It will be nice just entering next season not wondering how I’m going to keep my head above water [financially] like I usually do.”
There are a few projects, though, that the prize will finally allow him to pursue. Handbags, for example, are on the horizon, and he’s aiming to produce shoes, which he’s previously created only for the runway. The M word came up, too. “Menswear isn’t urgent, but I’d be lying if I said that it isn’t something that interested me,” said Tait, who’s been known to wear his own sharp cashmere coats or trousers when the sample’s just right. “I haven’t really had much money to go shopping, so I’ve gotta make do!”
But back to the question at hand: What makes Tait so darn exceptional? For one, he’s old school, whether it comes to technical skills (he’s involved in the creation of each garment he produces), delivering his collections on time, or even sketching. “Karl Lagerfeld mentioned that he liked my illustrations. He said that it was a dying art in fashion, that it was rare, and that was really touching.”
There’s the fact that Tait doesn’t aim to please anyone but himself. “I never feel like I’ve done something that I regret to satisfy someone else’s desires.” Except his clients, of course. “I’d like to think that people approach what I do because they care about how they feel, and they think about how they’re dressing.”
He’s never relied on celebrities to push his wares. “I don’t necessarily lend to celebrities because I prefer to [dress] people I have a personal connection to or an appreciation for.”
And his ability to simultaneously remain constant and tweak his aesthetic, shifting from streamlined elegance one season to slick streetwear the next, is terribly sophisticated. “There’s a common thread throughout each collection,” he said. “But when it comes to the look, it varies from season to season because there’s too much to talk about and experience for me to limit myself.”
In short, Tait is talented, creatively stable, and his abilities extend far beyond those of any other 26-year-old fashion star. “Most of our struggles boil down to financial needs,” he conceded, adding that he’d like to expand his wholesale distribution and open a flagship down the line. But he acknowledges there’s a long road ahead. “I still have a lot to learn,” he told me. “This is just the beginning.”
The atmosphere at the LVMH headquarters was electric this afternoon, as reporters, photographers, finalists, jury members, and designers all mingled before the big reveal of the inaugural LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers winner. London-based Canadian designer Thomas Tait, who won the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize back in 2010, came out on top. “I was shocked,” he told us while sitting next to his gilded trophy. “I thought, Did that just happen?” Tait is now looking at 300,000 euros of financial support and a year’s worth of business mentoring and production advice, and naturally we were curious as to his next move. “A nice dinner, a good night’s sleep, and I need to call my mom and dad,” he said. But after that, he might take another step toward that handbag he’s been thinking about. Menswear, though, is “not such an emergency.”
The ten runners-up (formerly eleven, but Julien Dossena shuttered his line Atto to focus on his work at Paco Rabanne) were not forgotten—and they were awarded for their efforts. After taking the podium, LVMH’s Delphine Arnault first presented three students, Flavien Juan Nuñez, Peter Do, and Teruhiro Hasegawa, with 10,000-euro grants plus one-year internships with Dior, Céline, and Givenchy, respectively. Then, Arnault announced that the jury, which included designers Karl Lagerfeld, Nicolas Ghesquière, Marc Jacobs, Humberto Leon, Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons, and Riccardo Tisci, had decided to create a special prize of 100,000 euros each for two runners-up. Those honorees were Shayne Olivier of Hood by Air and Indian sisters Tina and Nikita Sutradhar of Miuniku. Currently based in Mumbai, the latter are moving their camp to London next year, with plans to show at London fashion week.
Even those who walked away without a hefty purse were grateful. “It’s already been incredible in terms of exposure and meeting people—it’s like you win right out of the gate,” mused finalist Chris Gelinas. When asked about the final presentation, in which each designer, accompanied by two models, got ten minutes in front of the jury, he replied, “It felt a little like the Last Supper—all these important people lined up at one long table. I remember thinking, What did I just say to Karl Lagerfeld?“
“I really appreciated the very different personalities and expressions. It was very interesting,” said jury member Ghesquière. “They all really have a vision, a story to tell, an expression, and a signature. That’s formidable. As for the jury, there was a real camaraderie,” he added, before slipping out of the room and back to work. Lagerfeld noted that the best part of the process was “having everyone all together, we never see each other because we’re working. But I hate that I want everybody to win and that’s not possible.”
“I am thrilled. It was so interesting and original. All eleven candidates were of such excellent quality; each had their style,” offered Arnault. “They are tomorrow’s great talents.” Asked if she thought the contest would draw even more than this year’s 1,221 candidatures, she replied, “I hope so!”
Today in Paris, the eleven finalists for the coveted LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers gathered for the highly anticipated winners announcement. A jury including Karl Lagerfeld, Raf Simons, Nicolas Ghesquière, Marc Jacobs, Riccardo Tisci, and others have chosen London-based designer Thomas Tait as the top talent, awarding him a 300,000 euro prize and a year of mentoring. Both Hood by Air‘s Shayne Oliver (who’s up for a CFDA Award next week) and Nikita and Tina Sutradhar of Miuniku have also earned honorable mentions, as well as 100,000 euros each. A big congratulations to the winning designers. Stay tuned for our full report on the announcement, coming later today.
The panel of experts has spoken, the votes are in, and today we can announce the twelve talents who will move on to the final round of the heated LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers competition. Atto by Julien Dossena, CG by Chris Gelinas, Gabriele Colangelo, Shayne Oliver’s Hood by Air, Jacquemus by Simon Porte Jacquemus, Miuniku by Nikita and Tina Sutradhar, Thomas Tait, Tillmann Lauterbach, Tim Coppens, Simone Rocha, Suno by Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty, and Vika Gazinskaya will go head-to-head for the award’s 300,000 euro grant. A slideshow of the designers’ looks is available here.
But wait, you might be thinking. Weren’t there only supposed to be ten finalists? Yes, but LVMH’s team of forty industry insiders simply could not decide after surveying the work of the competition’s thirty semifinalists during an event at Paris fashion week. “It’s so hard,” offered Louis Vuitton’s executive vice president Delphine Arnault, who has been spearheading the initiative. “When we compiled the votes, four designers all had the same amount, so we let twelve in. I think it’s good.” We’re sure the finalists would agree.
The dozen men’s and womenswear designers, who hail from round the globe, will each have fifteen minutes to present their Fall ’14 collections at the LVMH headquarters in May. Judges including Karl Lagerfeld, Raf Simons, Nicolas Ghesquière, Marc Jacobs, Riccardo Tisci, and others will consider their efforts, and later choose a winner. “All the [LVMH Prize] designers are really enthusiastic,” offered Arnault. “I’m sure the contestants are nervous, but at the same time, it’s an amazing opportunity to meet all these people.” In a room filled with powerhouses like that, we’d be nervous, too, but the final twelve can take solace in the fact that at least one prestigious juror has been in their shoes. “Karl [Lagerfeld] started his career after winning a prize, but he told me there were 200,000 applicants, not 1,200 as we’ve had,” relayed Arnault. “Karl even had to sit and draw in front of the judges to prove that someone else hadn’t done his sketches for him.” As for the eighteen semifinalists who didn’t make the cut, they can take solace in the fact that they’re eligible to apply again next year. “I’m sure they must be very disappointed, but I hope they see it as an opportunity. And I hope we helped them to make some key connections in the industry.”
Back in November, we broke the news of LVMH’s new 300,000-euro LVMH Prize for Young Designers. According to WWD, 1,211 talents applied, and today the short list of thirty semifinalists, who will go on to present their collections to an esteemed panel of experts during Paris fashion week, were announced. CG by Chris Gelinas, Tim Coppens, Suno by Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis, Shayne Oliver’s Hood by Air, and Creatures of the Wind by Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters are among the New York-based brands that made the cut. Notable international names include London’s Craig Green, Simone Rocha, Thomas Tait, Meadham Kirchhoff (designed by Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff), and Marques’Almeida (designed by Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida); Paris’ Jacquemus (by Simon Porte Jacquemus) and Atto (by Julien Dossena); Rome’s Stella Jean; and more.
Following the Paris presentations, judges will select ten hopefuls from the group of thirty, and these finalists will continue on to compete for the big prize. The decision, which will be made by a group including Nicolas Ghesquière, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Humberto Leon, Carol Lim, Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons, and Riccardo Tisci, will be announced in May.