Woolmark announces 2017 International Prize winners

Earlier this week Woolmark announced the winners of this year's prestigious International Prize.

Presented at the iconic Palais de Tokyo, Paris on Monday, the event saw New York-based designer Gabriela Hearst take home the award for womenswear while Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty of Cottweiler for menswear.

Hearst's collection of ultra-thin lightweight wool separates impressed womenswear panel judges Victoria Beckham, Dame Natalie Massenet DBE, the chair of the British Fashion Council and Miroslava Duma. 'The International Woolmark Prize gives a huge opportunity to young designers globally,' Victoria Beckham said in a statement. 'It shows how much you can do with wool as a designer. I was very much in support of Gabriela. For me, she is the worthy winner. I love what she does and she's clearly very talented. I like her eye, she has great product and she's a strong woman. I have a huge amount of respect for her.'

'From a personal perspective I wish my grandfather and father were here,' said Hearst of her win. 'As a designer it's a huge honor to be recognized and I cannot wait to promote more Merino wool in the world as I believe it is the yarn of future.'

Cottweiler on the other hand won over the menswear panel judges with their collection of sheer Merino wool base-layers, windproof mid-layers and quilted waterproof outerwear, with wool-blend fabrics ranging from 18.5 microns through to 19.5 microns, and recycled wool scraps used for insulation. 'Cottweiler is working with wool in a highly original way that mixes sports, tailoring, streetwear and fashion, and I think that represents a new dimension in menswear,' said Dazed Media CEO and Co-Founder Jefferson Hack.

'Winning the International Woolmark Prize gives us the opportunity to share what we do with a much bigger, global audience,' said Cottweiler after the win. 'But for us, the great part of this was the opportunity to work with a different material - Merino wool - because we're always interested in experimenting with technology and development.'

Both Hearst and Cottweiler will now receive AU$100,000 to help support the development of their business. They will also receive ongoing industry mentor support, Woolmark certification for their winning collection and the opportunity to be stocked in some of the world's most prestigious department stores and boutiques.

One of the oldest and most prestigious fashion prizes since its inception in 1953, the Woolmark Prize has been awarded to designers including Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent in the past. This year, the menswear and womenswear awards were held together for the first time at one prestigious event. More than 75 designers from more than 60 countries were nominated for the Prize this year with finalists representing six different regions around the world.

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