By Sonya Rehman
The Woolmark Company’s prestigious International Woolmark Prize (IWP) 2015, will be seeing the participation of gifted regional designers from the Middle East, India and Pakistan for the first time since its inception, four years ago.
Celebrated for bringing new talent from the world of fashion to the global stage, eleven talented regional designers will come together this month, on the 22nd, at Manzil Downtown Dubai, and formally present their sketches of outfits (featuring Merino wool) to a panel of prominent industry experts. The shortlisted winners, for both womenswear and menswear, will then enter the exciting International Woolmark Prize finals which will be held in Florence and New York in 2016.
“We are honoured to host the International Woolmark Prize in the UAE for the first time,” stated Nez Gebreel, the CEO of the Dubai Design & Fashion Council (DDFC). Also part of the regional panel of local and international judges, Nez stated: “This is a great milestone towards DDFC’s goal of transforming Dubai into a global hub of fashion and design. The prize provides an international stage for regional designers to showcase their work and demonstrate the wealth of talent we have here.”
Nachiket Barve [India]
One of the prize’s nominees for womenswear, Nachiket stated that his collection was inspired by “stories of humanity told through human skin.”
“The patterns of fingerprints, tattoos and scarification have been abstracted and re-interpreted with intricate textile techniques such as embroidery, couching and applique.”
Speaking about the sketch that he’s to put forth to the panel, Nachiket stated: “The sketch has a sheath dress that can go from day to evening, board room to a cocktail party!”
Well-known in the arena of fashion, Nachiket’s designs have been praised by the eminent fashion journalist, Suzy Menkes, and the Editor-in-Chief of VOGUE Paris, Carine Roitfeld.
“Fashion must create a dialogue with the women who wear it,” Nachiket said, “I constantly strive to create contemporary, beautiful products that women can look and feel amazing in; where innovation is core of the design process.”
Sania Maskatiya [Pakistan]
Having been shortlisted for the prize for the second time in the row, the Sania Maskatiya label is one of the most well-known clothing brands in Pakistan today.
“I’m quite delighted to be able to represent Pakistan and its fashion design at this global platform for a second year now,” Sania, a nominee for womenswear stated.
“The final piece for the competition takes inspiration from our recent collection called Khayat. Featuring bright, digitalised paint splatter patterns, it hearkens back to our very first strokes on canvas. Taking the abandon of youthful expression and structuring it to dress for finesse, the ensemble reflects the label’s very own uniquely polished, yet quirky style.”
Suket Dhir [India]
“My sketch is reminiscent of our ritualistic trips to the mango orchards with my grandfather who always looked elegant in the loose palazzo pyjamas that he would wear with his shirts/kurtas in the summer; and would top it up with a beautifully tailored jacket in the winter,” stated Suket, one of the regional nominees for menswear. Having launched his eponymous label a few years ago, Suket mentions that for him as a designer, the fusion of traditional and western sensibilities is rather instinctual. “I’ve always been attracted to simplicity and minimal aesthetics and have found that for me, less is more. Nature inspires me a lot; where things that look very simple and elegant are actually intricate and complex.”
Taller Marmo [UAE]
Comprising of the talented designers, Riccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea, the Dubai-based womenswear brand, Taller Marmo, carries with it a fine balance of both European and Middle Eastern influences, with collections made exclusively in Italy by experienced craftswomen. “We visited Dubai once as tourists and we fell in love with the mix of different cultures. When the time came to launch our brand, we felt Dubai was the best option,” stated Riccardo regarding their decision to set-up a base in the city. Part of the womenswear nominees for the prize this year, he stated that it was an honour to be a part of the competition. “The nomination for the International Woolmark Prize is one of the highlights of our career. We are beyond excited to represent the region.”
“Our collection is based on the exploration of fashion and textiles from the Silk Road, studying their development, evolution and their influence on each other throughout the Silk Road. [The collection] explores wool and how it has evolved over the regions that are part of the Silk Road,” stated Omer Farooq, the founder of the Pakistani menswear label, Republic, and also one of the prize’s menswear nominees. “As a luxury menswear brand from Pakistan we have been using Merino wool in almost eighty per cent of our collections. We have done a lot of development for this particular collection for the Woolmark Prize and have found new ways to incorporate and even experiment with wool.”
International Woolmark Prize ’15 Regional Nominees:
Nachiket Barve (India)
Sania Maskatiya (Pakistan)
Taller Marmo (UAE)
Misha Lakhani (Pakistan)
Bashar Assaf (Lebanon)
Mira Hayek (Lebanon)
Suket Dhir (India)