Dream Weavers follows the journey of five emerging fashion brands, each one chasing their dream to win the 2013/14 International Woolmark Prize.
A competition about innovation, about pushing the boundaries and about fostering the talents of the next generation, the International Woolmark Prize shows that wool has no limits and can catapult a designer into an icon.
“The competition is all about innovation,” says fashion commentator and mentor to the designers Colin McDowell.
“It’s about doing something that somebody hasn’t done before, which enables you to start thinking as a young person ‘who am I going to knock off this pinnacle’, because that’s really what the job of the young is.”
Before the star-studded final awards staged during Milan Fashion Week there were five emerging labels each vying to become true masters of their craft.
Film-maker Anthony Lau travels to the designers’ homes, taking the audience to Hong Kong, Australia, England, India and the USA, to reveal the designers’ thoughts, anxieties, hopes and dreams on the road to Milan.
Crossing borders and cultures, the International Woolmark Prize remains one of the most coveted fashion awards of our time. The star of the show is, of course, Australian Merino wool: a natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre which offers designers the perfect blank canvas to work.
“Designers give us the vocabulary of clothing,” says McDowell. “Like any language there are synonymous words and expressions and you choose which one you want to use, and I think that is exactly the same with clothes.”
Representing India and the Middle East, Rahul Mishra keeps true to his family ties, heritage and design philosophy in each of his collections. Keeping age-old skills and craftsmanship alive, Mishra is recognised for his embroidery and his hand-loomed collection, which had just the X factor that the International Woolmark Prize judges were looking for.
“I don’t sell clothes, I tell stories.”
Mishra’s winning collection displayed progressive graphic hand embroidery with Merino wool yarn on jackets, dresses and pants, with the graphic designs stemming from an eight-petal lotus to morph into complex structures.
Hailing from India, Mishra remembers listening to stories told and retold by his grandmother as he was growing up.
“We didn’t own a television,” Mishra explains. “And so story-telling is one of the biggest driving forces behind my design philosophy.”
Trying to impress a panel of esteemed judges which included Frida Giannini, Alexa Chung and Franca and Carla Sozzani is by no means an easy feat, yet an emotional Mishra definitely won them over. When asked what winning the award would mean, Mishra answered: “It’s going to mean the world”.
“When I look back to how I started my life, with a very humble background, I came here as a completely unknown designer in this sphere of fashion; and suddenly this prize gives you that big recognition in an instant.”
For Alexa Chung, recognising fresh talent is something she believes is extremely valuable.
“The International Woolmark Prize is incredibly important, showing support to emerging talent to help people develop their brands,” she says.
Franca Sozzani also echoes this sentiment: “To help and to discover young talents is something that is important for Woolmark, but it’s important even for everybody, because fashion needs to have young talent.”