Since 2014, the LVMH Prize has been scouting and cultivating the most creative design talent from around the globe. The third installment of the prize has continued to gain momentum and is rumored to be the most talented and international cohort yet. The final judging takes place this upcoming Thursday, June 16 at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in France. The eight finalists, hailing from Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Japan, the US and the UK, form a diverse melting pot of the fashion world’s future stars. Thomas Tait triumphed in 2014 while Marques Almeida took home the top prize in 2015. The world is watching to see who will be this year’s lauded designer, so meet the eight finalists competing for the covetable title.
Finnish womenswear designer Tuomas Merikoski of Aalto is based in Paris, but stays true to his Scandinavian roots, by exploring the diversity of modern Finnish culture by reinterpreting its traditional origins. Merikoski describes his aesthetic as: “Raw, direct and sophisticated. I like to mix clashing elements that go together in a new way, sometimes in a surprising way.” Merikoski designs with juxtaposing identities in mind when selecting his fabrics, details and graphics. “The oddity of mixes relate to the Finnish identity that also has very intriguing combinations.” Merikoski has caught the eye of stockists including 10 Corso Como, Opening Ceremony, and Le Bon Marché.
California native Matthew Williams was ironically rejected from Parsons School of Design, but that didn’t slow his fashion career down. Having previously worked with Kanye West, Lady Gaga and Nick Knight, Williams has made a reputable name for himself prior to the prize. Alyx Studio is named after his daughter, offering clothing and accessories that are sexy, urban and punk, all with a refined sophistication. To further validate his cool kid vibe, he’s known for his heavy duty belts, produced by the seat belt manufacturer for Six Flags Magic Mountain.
When asked which three words describe his designs, Brandon Maxwell said: “Sculptural, timeless, and classic.” The womenswear designer is based in the concrete jungle and his monochromatic, structural apparel exudes classic Manhattan elegance. As a longtime stylist and friend of Lady Gaga, Brandon Maxwell is also a go-to stylist among various Hollywood celebs, including Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow. Maxwell is devoted to the creative fashion industry, wholeheartedly expressing: “I have a deep love for fashion and the process of fashion. I have dedicated my life to the work. It is just a part of living for me now.” We’ll see if that passion resonates with the judges.
Hiromichi Ochiai is the first Japanese designer who has made the LVMH Prize final eight. Both a womenswear and menswear designer, Ochiai founded his unisex streetwear label in Tokyo in 2007. His past experience at Japanese textile company, Guildwork, can be found in his Facetasm creations, with shape, texture, and fabric manipulations at the core of his brand’s DNA. The brand’s apparel portrays the corky components of Japanese pop culture and every collection is artistically tailored and unique.
Shortlisted in 2015, this is Christelle Kocher’s second stab at the LVMH prize. One of three Paris-based designers, Koché embodies contrasting aesthetics that mesh cohesively. Kocher explains her brand as “a unique mix between some sophisticated french couture touches, some very urban and streetwear sides, and contemporary art aspects.” The fabrication of her garments matched with her raw energy has brought widespread attention to her high-spirited streetwear label.
Vejas Kruszewski is a fresh faced 19-year-old and the youngest LVMH Prize finalist. With three collections under his belt, he has been an electric favorite among the up-and-coming design crowd. His androgynous designs and progressive castings support gender fluidity. Standout pieces from him have included charmingly cool with muted hues, billowing bomber jackets and head-to-toe, snappable, sweatsuit ensembles. With or without the prize, there is no doubt this Toronto-based designer is here to stay.
Grace Wales Bonner is an English designer based in London. Her womenswear and menswear pieces are inspired by the interpretations of Westernized black representation. A delicate balance between masculine and feminine, the Central Saint Martins grad truly moves people with her designs–almost like a spiritual awakening. Bonner has caught the eye of many fashion trendsetters, including singer FKA Twigs. Each of her collections are an inspiring narrative, infused with strong, black cultural ideals and meticulous craftsmanship.
Glenn Martens dubs Y/Project as a brand for the “Elizabethan girl on ecstasy.” No wonder the Belgian designer has garnered a lot of support and attention over the past year. Despite the buzz, Martens is always hyper-focused on his work. “I don’t give much attention to what’s happening around me…I have basic needs, I don’t do that many fashion-related events and my group of friends have become my family over the years. It’s all I need to stay motivated and inspired,” he told Observer. Martens continues to push boundaries with his designs. He says he is, “in search for whatever is frightening or challenging. It’s all about freedom. We want to have fun and make fun clothes.”