Woolmark Prize: Germany and Denmark are the European finalists
The both dreamed of becoming architects. In the end, they became designers! One comes from Germany, Tim Labenda, while the other is Danish, Malte Flagstad, the creator of label, Tonsure.
The designers will each represent Europe in their own category, Men's and Women's, for the final of the Woolmark Prize, which takes place in January 2017 in London for menswear and in Paris for womenswear.
Their victory at the European region level, which took place this Tuesday June 28 in Milan, saw each designer take home a prize of 33,400 euros ($AUD50,000). This will allow each one to develop a collection using primarily merino wool in the coming months, after having outlined design ideas to the jury this week.
The two winners prevailed over 18 other talents competing to represent Europe. This included French womenswear designer Etienne Derœux and menswear's Matières Paris.
Tim Labenda (30) is more well known in Germany, where most of his wholesale clients reside, and is stocked in around 15 multi brand boutiques.
Labenda stood out for "his ability to make wool look glamorous," the director of Vogue Italy and jury president of the Women's category, Franca Sozzani, told us.
"My collection appeals to an independent woman, sophisticated and intellectual, interested by art. In fact, a woman that is quite difficult to find," explained the blue-eyed Berlin designer, who likes to use clothing as an expressive space in which a story can be told.
Labenda started out at Hugo Boss and studied design at Pforzheim University. He then went to specialise in textile design at the Canadian university in Halifax, NSCD.
He debuted as a designer under the Austrian label Ute Ploier before releases his own label in 2013 (he is up to his 7th collection). Very quickly, he made himself known (on Zalando, in particular) and via multiple collaborations, all the while showing at Berlin Fashion Week.
The Dane Malte Flgagstad (36) created his menswear label in 2013, bowing his autumn-winter 2014 with his partner Adam Hjorth, who manages the business.
"After completing an internship at an architecture firm, I knew that I wasn't cut out for that," he admits, laughing.
The designer, with long brown hair, went to London then, where he studied at Central Saint Martins.
He was immediately snapped up by Maison Martin Margiela, where he took to menswear design, his specialty. It was a formative experience which pushed him to go solo two years later in Copenhagen, where he is now based and shows his collections.
"With Tonsure, which reflects Scandinavian minimalism, I am revisiting classic menswear with a touch of modernity, while balancing sportswear and formalwear," he explains.
Quite close to the market positioning of Acne or Marni, the label has in the past attracted buyers from some of the best multibrand boutiques, particularly in Japan.
As it stands today, Malte Flgagstad has between 20 and 24 clients, mostly in Japon and presents his collections in Paris and Tokyo.
The most interesting thing for the designer is the concept of "the collective work", where each one's talent makes way for excellence.
"Tonsure has both fashion elements and commercial potential. It's modern with a certain Nordic pragmatism," explains the creator director at Ports 1961, Mila Vukmirovic, a member of the Men's jury panel.
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