LVMH 2021 Prize: culture and origins omnipresent in the collections of the 20 semi-finalists

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At the end of last month, the LVMH prize revealed the names of its 20 semi-finalists for its 2021 edition. This edition is unlike any other, since for the first time, the showroom of the Prize was put online, from 6 to 11 April, so that the public could elect the 8 candidates for the final themselves.

 

“This semi-final will be entirely digital, and we wanted it to be open to as many people as possible: for the first time, the LVMH Prize will give the public the opportunity, on the lvmhprize.com website, to discover the twenty semi-finalists and vote for the candidate of their choice,” said Delphine Arnault, Louis Vuitton’s second-in-command and talent scout at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

 

“It’s always interesting to touch the fabrics, to see the quality of the products and the creativity of the cuts. It’s not as easy to do online,” noted the executive. “Our teams have done a great job of trying to make a meeting with the designer as close as possible.”

 

“It gives them visibility, and for future editions, it will allow us to hopefully combine a physical event with this existing digital platform that we can build on in the future. It’s also great for the audience, so it will give us the best of both worlds,” said Arnault.

 

 

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This year’s collections featured an incredible diversity of culture and talent, from China, South Africa, South Korea, the United States, France, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Nigeria and the United Kingdom, and, for the first time, Albania and Colombia – eclectic creations rooted in the designers’ own culture and identity.

 

Moreover, the ban on international travel only served to highlight the geographical diversity of the participants, including the first Arab woman to be included in the list of finalists.

 

“This year there was a lot of colour and knitwear. Two or three years ago, the big story was streetwear. That’s less the case now. There is a growing trend towards gender-neutral fashion, and sustainability remains a central concern,” continued Delphine Arnault. “It really reflects the state of fashion at a given moment. It’s like a snapshot of society.

 

A look back at these atypical designers who, despite their diversity, have revealed a common objective: to propose a fashion that wants to be responsible, whether through the use of innovative materials, craftsmanship or upcycling.

 

“These initiatives are a clear reflection of the shift in the fashion and luxury industries. Among the semi-finalists, seven of them offer women’s collections, five men’s collections, and two candidates offer both women’s and men’s collections. Six of them presented a unisex wardrobe. This edition also marks the return of knitwear, second-skin garments and the use of colour by certain designers,” continued Arnault.

 

Semi-finalist Christopher John Rogers

 

American designer Christopher John Rogers, best known for dressing celebrities such as Cardi B, Rihanna and Lizzo in his colourful red carpet creations, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris at Biden’s inauguration, described the fashion era as an “expansive expression”.

 

 

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“I want to be part of this league of talent that breaks down this traditional aesthetic hierarchy of what we expect from luxury clothing,” he told WWD in a Zoom interview in New York. “We’re in an era where someone who makes that really beautiful grey double-felt cashmere coat – that work can be as chic as that rainbow knit fantasy in intarsia, you know? It’s kind of the same thing. It just depends on your preference, and it doesn’t have to be on a certain scale. It’s something I really believe in, and I think this year’s crop of semi-finalists is definitely proof of that,” he added.

 

Like many emerging designers, he is preparing for an era of freedom once the pandemic ends.

 

“Everyone’s expecting another Roaring Twenties moment where everyone wants to go out, wants to let loose and not worry too much about everyone’s opinion of their appearance, everyone’s going to want to present themselves differently, but I think the one universal vibe is going to be, like, ‘crazy’.”

 

Lebanese designer Cynthia Merhej

 

“It’s really strange, because this whole award is centred around something quite physical, which is clothes, and we’re doing it entirely digitally,” said Cynthia Merhej, the Lebanese designer behind the label Renaissance Renaissance. “I think they’ve done a really good job with the platform. It looks amazing.

 

Cerebral yet sensual, her designs are rooted in rebellion against Lebanese patriarchal society. “The pieces are not meant to be Instagram pieces. That’s not the philosophy behind them at all, so they really need to be seen and touched,” she argued.

 

“I never want to see a pair of jeans again,” she offered, defending the fact that Lebanese women are experts at using fashion to beat the blues. “Life over there is quite difficult, so the only thing we have that comforts us and makes us feel good and better about our reality, in a way, is dressing up.”

 

Merhej’s designs are stocked exclusively at Net-a-porter, so the LVMH prize is “a huge ray of sunshine” for her after a year marked by a deep economic crisis, successive lockouts and a devastating explosion in Beirut in August.

 

 

“I know it’s really meaningful for everybody in Lebanon, because we really need a victory, in a way. We need something positive to look forward to,” she said. “Since last year, we have been going through what I can only call a nightmare mixed with hell.”

 

As the first Arab woman to make the cut since the award was launched in 2015, she hopes to pave the way for other Middle Eastern designers and change misconceptions about her culture.

 

“We feel that others tell our stories in a way that doesn’t really feel familiar, or we continue to be locked into certain narratives,” she explained. “Lebanon means good food, beach, Botox, ornate dresses, everything exaggerated and crazy, but that’s not the Lebanon I know personally. Yes, I think that exists, but there is also a large part of us who are not like that.”

 

Nigerian designer Adeju Thompson

 

Adeju Thompson is the founder of the Lagos space programme and also wants to change the image of African fashion.

 

 

“Even though much of what I do is influenced by my identity as an African, I am more than that. I’m a global designer,” said Thompson, who cites designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo as early influences. “In my work, that’s something I’m always very conscious of, you know – I’m just trying to break down the misconceptions of what design from the continent looks like.”

 

Behind his designs is also a strong political dimension. Indeed in 2019, Thompson was assaulted by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a notorious Nigerian police unit with a long history of abuse. “I was detained for five hours because of the way I was dressing”.

 

 

“I think that’s when I started to see the Lagos space program and the work I do as a form of protest,” Thompson said. “When I explore my identity as a queer person, in the West, it’s normal, and I guess so many designers could do that. Where I come from, I could get in trouble. For me, it’s so important that I speak for myself.”

 

“I’ve never been someone who is very comfortable with the spotlight. I don’t want to be a celebrity maker. I’m very happy not to be seen and for my work to speak for itself,” he said, referring to his previous success at Milan Fashion Week. His brand is sold exclusively at the Lagos Alara concept store.

 

Read also > LVMH INNOVATION AWARD LAUNCHES CALL FOR ENTRIES FOR 2021

 

Featured photo : © LVMH[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row njt-role=”not-logged-in”][vc_column][vc_column_text]

At the end of last month, the LVMH prize revealed the names of its 20 semi-finalists for its 2021 edition. This edition is unlike any other, since for the first time, the showroom of the Prize was put online, from 6 to 11 April, so that the public could elect the 8 candidates for the final themselves.

 

“This semi-final will be entirely digital, and we wanted it to be open to as many people as possible: for the first time, the LVMH Prize will give the public the opportunity, on the lvmhprize.com website, to discover the twenty semi-finalists and vote for the candidate of their choice,” said Delphine Arnault, Louis Vuitton’s second-in-command and talent scout at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

 

“It’s always interesting to touch the fabrics, to see the quality of the products and the creativity of the cuts. It’s not as easy to do online,” noted the executive. “Our teams have done a great job of trying to make a meeting with the designer as close as possible.”

 

“It gives them visibility, and for future editions, it will allow us to hopefully combine a physical event with this existing digital platform that we can build on in the future. It’s also great for the audience, so it will give us the best of both worlds,” said Arnault.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by LVMHPrize (@lvmhprize)

 

This year’s collections featured an incredible diversity of culture and talent, from China, South Africa, South Korea, the United States, France, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Nigeria and the United Kingdom, and, for the first time, Albania and Colombia – eclectic creations rooted in the designers’ own culture and identity.

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At the end of last month, the LVMH prize revealed the names of its 20 semi-finalists for its 2021 edition. This edition is unlike any other, since for the first time, the showroom of the Prize was put online, from 6 to 11 April, so that the public could elect the 8 candidates for the final themselves.

 

“This semi-final will be entirely digital, and we wanted it to be open to as many people as possible: for the first time, the LVMH Prize will give the public the opportunity, on the lvmhprize.com website, to discover the twenty semi-finalists and vote for the candidate of their choice,” said Delphine Arnault, Louis Vuitton’s second-in-command and talent scout at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

 

“It’s always interesting to touch the fabrics, to see the quality of the products and the creativity of the cuts. It’s not as easy to do online,” noted the executive. “Our teams have done a great job of trying to make a meeting with the designer as close as possible.”

 

“It gives them visibility, and for future editions, it will allow us to hopefully combine a physical event with this existing digital platform that we can build on in the future. It’s also great for the audience, so it will give us the best of both worlds,” said Arnault.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by LVMHPrize (@lvmhprize)

 

This year’s collections featured an incredible diversity of culture and talent, from China, South Africa, South Korea, the United States, France, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Nigeria and the United Kingdom, and, for the first time, Albania and Colombia – eclectic creations rooted in the designers’ own culture and identity.

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