For over 60 years, The Australian Wool Industry has been celebrating outstanding talent and shining a spotlight on how the world's finest designers work with beautiful and sustainable Merino wool. In 1952 their International Wool Secreteriat award went to two relative unknowns: Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.
This year's International Woolmark Prize will award 100,000 Australian dollars to an up and coming finalist designer that uses his or her gift and skill to highlight wool. First, five regional awards will be held in July in Australia, China, India, Europe and the US. Candidates will present sketches for a capsule collection of six pieces incorporating Merino wool with one outfit already made. Winners from each region will receive a financial contribution towards their next collection as well as an invitation to participate in the international final. Besides the cash prize, the ultimate winner will have his or her collection sold at international retail partners such as the UK's Harvey Nichols, China's Lane Crawford, Germany's EICKHOFF Koenigsallee and the USA's Bergdorf Goodman.
Judges internationally include Franca Sozzani, Narciso Rodriguez, Alexandra Shulman, Sally Singer, Linda Fargo, Giles Deacon, Steven Kolb, Christiane Arp, Malcolm Carfrae, Uma Wang, Priya Tana and Kirstie Clements. The award has been supported internationally by key fashion councils including the Council of Fashion Designers America, British Fashion Council, Chambre Syndicale De La Couture, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Madrid, Flanders Fashion Institute and Premsela the Netherlands Institute for Design and Fashion.