Sonia Rykiel, patron of Woolmark Prize 2008, announced Chinese designer Qiu Hao as this year’s winner of the Woolmark award in Paris.

Qiu Hao, who graduated from Central Saint Martins College in London and studied Interior Design at Suzhou University, joins design legends including Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Romeo Gigli, Dolce & Gabbana and Giorgio Armani as a recipient of the prestigious award.

“We see the Woolmark Prize as a good opportunity to support design on the one hand and to show the world Australian Merino wool as the best and most innovative material,” said Craig Welsh, CEO of Australian Wool Innovation.

The award includes a prize of €100,000 as well as support for sourcing, production, presentation and promotion.

The Woolmark prize was originally awarded by the International Wool Secretariat (IWS) from 1954 to 1992 prior to Australian Wool Innovation’s involvement. Award prerequisites, including first class performance and innovation, have remain virtually unchanged throughout the years. The prize aims to underscore the importance of Merino wool in the fashion industry.

Applications for the 2009 Woolmark Prize will be taken beginning October 2008.