Observing the metamorphosis the world has undergone in the past 100 years, Rahul Mishra sought to portray the journey of the human race through his entry in the 2013/14 International Woolmark Prize (IWP) for the India and the Middle East region.
“I love storytelling,” Mishra explains. “For me storytelling is the most important, stories are the soul of any kind of design, any kind of concept.”
“It’s all about a designer’s expression, clothes are like a by-product. You want to express yourself.” Rahul Mishra
Mishra’s story captivated the judges: his progressive, graphic hand-embroidered Merino wool jacket dress showed exquisite artistry. The woven detail, inspired by the shape of an eight-petal lotus flower, morphs into more complex structures.
The concept saw Mishra rise to the top of the ten finalists from India, the UAE, Pakistan and Lebanon to take out the regional IWP award at a ceremony held at the beautiful Leela Palace in New Delhi, India. Along with AUD$50,000 in prize money, the honour sees the Mumbai-based designer head to Milan Fashion Week next year in a bid to take out the 2013/14 award.
For the February 2014 final, Mishra must develop a Merino wool capsule collection to go up against finalists from Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States, but it’s a challenge the young designer says he is ready to accept.
“I just can’t stop thanking all the people who worked towards it,” he says. “It’s a journey that’s just started, although started on a newer level altogether. The confidence is on a newer level. It’s a great validation of my work, but nevertheless it is just a start.”
Local and international industry figures judged the regional award, including fashion writer Imran Amed, founder of The Business of Fashion; designer Manish Arora; Peter Ackroyd, president of the International Wool Textile Organisation; Simon Lock, CEO of The Lock Group; and Sunil Sethi, president of the Fashion Design Council of India.
“Sometimes you create something and you just want to cry, you’re so happy with it.” Rahul Mishra
“My idea for Indian craft is to make it modern, to make it contemporary,” says Mishra. “Because craft gets lost in the museum if you don’t create it [for] the time. You have to constantly evolve yourself.”
Should his work deliver him the 2013/14 International Woolmark Prize, Mishra will add another AUD$100,000 to his prize kitty and see his collection appear on the shelves of the best known fashion retailers in the world, including London’s Harvey Nichols, New York’s Saks Fifth Avenue, Milan’s 10 Corso Como, China’s Joyce, Australia’s David Jones and My Theresa in Germany and online.
Although he embraces traditional Indian craftsmanship, Mishra understands the need to design with an international perspective.
“It has to be a very universal product which can be worn anywhere in the world,” he says. “The world has become smaller now, it has become like a global village.”