>> I've been catching up on all the various fashion prizes that numerous designers go for at this time of the year when it feels a little like fashion funding lottery. Who can scoop the various prizes worth up to hundreds of thousands of Euros, that are now sponsored by anyone from a famed hotelier to LVMH to eBay? ANDAM recently announced its winners with the very talented and ultra-nice Julien David quite rightly grabbing the grand prize. A few months ago, Wisharawish Akarasantisook, who I knew as a Hyeres finalist from many moons ago, won the Mango Award. Louise Gray, Mary Katrantzou, Henry Holland and James Long have all just received their Fashion Forward sponsorship, which is now oddly sponsored by eBay. Woolmark have also just announced all of their finalists from five world regions including Dion Lee from Australia, Christian Wijnants from Europe and Sophie Theallet from USA.
The latest shortlist for the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize, a fairly new initiative started by fashion writer Bronwyn Cosgrave together with the Dorchester Hotel Group, has just been announced. This year's criteria stipulates that designers have to be based in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland or Netherlands, which I knew would throw up a few unfamiliar names. One of the nominees IRM Design caught my eye with their blend of accessories and fashion that is based on the idea of collaboration and experimentation. The IRM Design team consists of Marion Lalanne and Pierre Alexis Hermet, a pair of friends who met at ESMOD Lyon and are now based in Paris. They seem to be bursting with ideas, and as such haven't quite established a consistent signature yet, but show promise in the few collections they have done. For A/W 12-3, they've done a collection of neck pieces, cuffs and a few bags entitled "Galactica" that macrame cord with stones, placed on palladium or silver foundations. There's also a geometric backpack involving yellow fun fur and olive leather which feels strangely good in its texture mash-up. It's a sweeping generalisation but the bottom line is that none of this feels stereotypically "French" which is a good thing in the scheme of pushing ahead with younger designers coming through in France.
Their S/S 12 fashion collection saw them collaborate with French painter Françoise Nielly, known for her neon streaked painterly portraits. On a series of silk organza dresses, Nielly paints swashes of vivid colour with a knife directly on to the fabric leaving parts of the organza transparent. Every dress was therefore a one off and one of them is still available on French e-boutique L'Exception, where the collection was exclusively sold.