wool lace and scuba wool: teatum jones win the woolmark prize
The UK design duo were selected by a panel including Andre Leon Talley, Tim Blanks and Thakoon Panichgul for their innovative use of Australian wool.
Teatum Jones, the UK label from design duo Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones, has been announced as the winner of the 2016 Woolmark Prize for womenswear at a ceremony during New York Fashion Week, beating competition from more than 70 other designer entries. Judges including American Vogue's Andre Leon Talley, fashion critic Tim Blanks and designer Thakoon Panichgul selected Teatum Jones for their innovative use of Australian Merino wool.
The designers may have been inspired by the work of an English nun Agnes Morrogh-Bernard, whose Wool Utopia idea saw the founding of Foxford Woollen Mills in 1892 as a way to fight poverty in her area, but the prize winning designs are anything but old-fashioned. Teatum Jones partnered with a specialist guipure lace mill in France, convincing them to use wool for the first time to create geometric Merino lace; and they also worked with artisans in Italy to create a scuba-style stretch wool fabric, onto which they bonded the Merino lace.
"I loved the original concept, the articulation of the concept and the romanticism of the clothes," judge André Leon Talley says in a statement, with Thakoon Panichgul adding that, "They did their research in terms of sourcing and I believe some customers will really respond to the narrative. It was wonderful… The winner took to the task of using wool in innovative ways. They showed artisanal qualities through wool lace, colour blocking and double-faced wool creating a three-dimensional quality".
"This is amazing, we are honoured and excited and it's just the beginning; we have only scratched the surface," the Teatum Jones designers say of their win. "This award lets us ignite the magic of wool, so the customer sees the romance in wool. This competition is the opportunity to be physically present at store launches and being able to pass on that experience to the customer is magical".
The winning capsule collection will go on sale at prestigious stores around the world, including Harvey Nichols in the UK, Saks Fifth Avenue in the US, Isetan Mitsukoshi in Japan and online at MyTheresa.com. Teatum Jones also take home AU$100,000 to support the development of their business, and will receive ongoing industry mentor support.