Since she was first discovered as a gamine teenager at a music festival, Alexa Chung has lived and breathed fashion. Catapulted into the world of modelling at 16, the British beauty later tried her hand at television before settling into her current incarnation as a fashion plate and contributing editor to British Vogue.
"My favourite today was Rahul, I was really blown away by his clothes."
And in 2014, the 30 year old adds IWP judge to her fashion CV. Talking exclusively at Milan Fashion Week following the runway finale presentation, Chung sang the praises of any initiative that encourages fresh talent in a cut throat industry.
"I think the International Woolmark Prize is incredibly important to an industry like this because it's showing support to emerging talent," Chung says. "It's a very difficult business, so any help is amazing."
But the star was even more effusive about the work of India’s Rahul Mishra, announced moments earlier as the award's victor.
"His attention to detail was amazing," she says. "I love the idea that he brought this structure with him as well explaining how, from the sheep to the city, wool had gone on this journey. It was really romantic and wearable and beautiful."
Chung admits it was by no means an easy decision, with her vote torn between Mishra and the US finalist.
"Fashion needs young talent."
"I had a hard time deciding between him and Joseph Altuzarra," she confessed. "But ultimately I think it was nice to give Rahul a chance."
Apart from receiving an AUD$100,000 cash prize, Mishra's winning collection is set to appear on the shelves of the world's leading fashion retailers later in the year, including Harvey Nichols (London), Saks Fifth Avenue (New York), Joyce (Hong Kong) and David Jones (Sydney). Soon, the entire world will have the chance to fall in love with Rahul Mishra as Chung and her fellow judges have done.
Watch Alexa Chung, Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani and Stefano Tonchi, editor of W Magazine, reflect on the IWP and the talents of Rahul Mishra in the video above.
2013/14 International Woolmark Prize: All the designers, all their collections, all Merino wool