Last night, the Woolmark company and the CFDA joined forces to fête Public School’s and M.Patmos’ big wins in the mens and womens prizes (respectively) and to introduce the USA’s contenders for the 2015/2016 International Woolmark prize. CFDA CEO Steven Kolb and Michelle Lee, Director of the Americas for The Woolmark Company, were both on hand to help celebrate the designers making a play for the grand prize. This year’s lineup includes Cadet’s Raul Arevalo and Brad Schmidt, David Hart, Lucio Castro, Thaddeus O’Neil and Siki Im for menswear. Representing for womenswear is Kaelen Haworth of Kaelen, Nellie Partow, Novis’ Jordana Warmflash, Tanya Taylor and Chris Gelinas. The new class seemed quite enthusiastic about their inclusion in this storied tradition, dating back to the 50s.
“It’s an honor to participate,” Chris Gelinas told us. “It’s really exciting mainly because of the history, obviously with Yves Saint Lauren and Karl Lagerfeld winning the prize (in 1954) and they were relatively unknown designers at the time. Something like this can really make a career. There are a lot of prizes these days, but to be involved with one that has such a history and a heritage with supporting designers is interesting.”
Each designer will use wool textiles to bring to life their modern visions of the fabric, which to many people has a very specific connotation. “Wool to a lot of people has very obvious references, whether it’s outerwear or Fall/Winter,” Gelinas explained. “I think that it lacks this technical edge and I love bridging this gap between classic conventions and innovation. I’m working on some really cool techniques that I think are really innovative and I think will bring a totally new view on wool. I don’t think you think of wool as being really high tech and hopefully, I can achieve something that will change people’s perceptions a bit.”
It is this same keen sense of innovation that helped M.Patmos’ Marcia Patmos win the 2014/2015 award, along with Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne. Patmos said she’s already gotten several inquiries about her label and the collection, which is due to hit stores for the fall season. Her collection is truly elevated casual wear, a trend that has taken fashion by storm.
The Public School designers are having their moment in the sun. With their 2014 CFDA award for Menswear Designer of the Year, their 2013 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Prize and the possibility that they could take home two CFDA awards this year, it’s a bit of an understatement to say that Public School has been having an excellent past few years.
Osborne and Chow, who have already started their tenure as creative directors for DKNY, don’t feel any differently despite the accolades. “It’s weird because we’ve been taking it day to day and it doesn’t really feel like [we’ve skyrocketed.]” Osborne said. “I think we step back and try to look at it from the outside, our trajectory to us is something we can’t fully embrace. We’ve just been working and taking it one day at a time and doing the best that we can. There is so much more to go, so it really feels the same.”