One day after Rahul Mishra was awarded winner of the 2013/14 International Woolmark Prize, the Indian designer was still pinching himself to make sure it was real. Recognised for his embroidery and hand-loomed collection, Mishra impressed a panel of industry experts in Milan.
“This is the biggest moment in my life,” Mishra said. “It’s very surreal; I must have pinched myself one thousand times. I have been receiving wonderful messages on Twitter from the most important people on the planet and I was up until 2am thanking everyone for their support and well wishes.”
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. It’s not only Mishra’s sketches which he brings to life, but in fact it is his entire design philosophy.
“The lotus is really pristine, there are no thorns, and just like a wool fibre a lotus cannot get polluted. There is a saying which is ‘like a lotus, I rise out of mud and water and stand above the water and remain unsoiled’ and this is what inspired me.
“I always think of the three Es when I start to create a collection: environment, employment and empowerment, and if you can think about all these things then your product will be perfect.
“My product will go through evolution – it will change and get better, but philosophy should always remain constant.”
“I do not intend to just design a product, I’m here to design a collection which focuses on Merino wool and encourage participation,” explains Mishra.
Using superfine Australian Merino wool, Mishra explains his pieces as “sustainable luxury” and his work helps those in smaller villages who are less fortunate than others.
“I truly believe wool is the fibre of possibilities."
“I truly believe wool is the fibre of possibilities. Wool shows me a great system of participation where everyone can become involved and can create coexistence. I work with people who may not have great privilege but who have a great skill and so it also savours crafts and skills which could otherwise be lost.”
It’s this notion of reverse migration – where people leave the cities and return to the villages – which feeds the passion Mishra has for fashion design.
“It’s important to keep your passion alive. Craftsmanship is not like any profession, it’s not just about making money, it gives you passion and that is the magic of fashion.
“Wool is a fibre which starts on farms and goes on to catwalks all over the world, and so I try to show that passion and emotion in my clothes.”
Mishra also tried to challenge the common misconception that wool is only a fibre for the cooler months. The fibre’s advanced breathability saw Mishra produce a spring/summer collection which, in many countries, could be worn nearly 12 months of the year.
“I was really quite keen on creating fabric which had a cool wool look. Countries like India and many others in the world don’t have cold winters. I wanted to challenge that belief and ideology that wool is only a warm fibre.
“I tell people in Delhi you can wear this fabric in 50 degrees Celsius and be more comfortable than if you were wearing a cotton, and it’s important to push this message in countries like India.”
Winner of the 2013/14 International Woolmark Prize
It's Tokyo's turn to take part in Campaign for Wool