Fashion month has kicked off and it feels like it’s properly back. Quite rightly there’s a concurrent spotlight on newer talent and younger businesses, who will need extra help in reorienting themselves after the ravages of the pandemic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many mentoring projects!
The 8th LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers just took place, with the main prize won by Nensi Dojaka and three designers sharing the Karl Lagerfeld Prize of €150K each (congrats to my fave, Lukhanyo Mdingi). While prize money is great, it’s not everything. (Remember Thomas Tait’s experience?) So alongside the cash, the LVMH Prize offers access to LVMH’s top tier of luxury business experts, helping designers to bolster their businesses and develop their brands.
Matchesfashion* is also committed to nurturing on-the-rise talent. In its second year, its annual Innovators Programme focuses on championing emerging global designers, with practical support including marketing and preferential business terms. While Matchesfashion can certainly help on the retail front, it’s also doubling down on the editorial. This week it kicks off a series of interviews pairing up newer designers with more experienced ‘mentors’. I love a Q&A format between equally interesting people and this conversation* between Grace Wales Bonner and Jil Sander’s Lucie and Luke Meier is a great fit.
There are similarities and differences in their design approaches. Wales Bonner has always interested me for the way she uses fashion as a communication tool to express a vision beyond clothes – through publications, exhibitions, ‘sound experience’, and her amazing films. This season’s collection expresses the identities of 1980s Black British Oxbridge scholars, in tailored denim*, slim retro track pants* and patterned knits*. “I’m really interested in fashion as a means of communication,” she says. “I like to create different strands that can express different ideas – but they’re all part of one expression. Fashion feels like the most direct medium I have.”
Lucie and Luke Meier are a design couple I very much admire for what they’re doing with Jil Sander. It’s a good marriage of the founder’s tailored rigour with their own warmer and more personal street-rooted vibe. This season’s Bauhaus-inspired knits* gel well with their utility-luxe trousers* and outerwear*. But while Wales Bonner and the Meiers share an intellectual and narrative approach to their labels, they diverge on what that narrative should be. Luke Meier praises the consistency of OG Jil Sander, while Wales Bonner can’t commit. “The most important ideas I am interested in are duality and multiplicity. I don’t want to present a singular narrative.”
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WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Wales Bonner menswear / Matchesfashion
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