If today we’re seeing a trend for nurturing young designers, fashion can thank Nathalie Dufour: Thirty years ago she pioneered the concept when she founded ANDAM (the National Association for the Development of the Fashion Arts) in Paris. Neatly deflecting the limelight earlier this evening, Dufour simply offered, “The prize became unique in the world because it brings together important institutions, including two ministries, and all the major luxury groups. For our 30th anniversary it’s an incredible achievement.”
Tonight ANDAM disbursed nearly half a million euros to a handful of rising stars: Koché designer Christelle Kocher took home the grand prize of $280,000, which comes with a year’s worth of mentoring by Renzo Rosso. She will also be able to collaborate with Swarovski and use up to 10,000 euros worth of crystals in her next show. The creative label prize ($111,000) went to Nicolas Lecourt Mansion, a designer whose label is just one year old. The accessories prize ($56,000) went to Khaore’s Wei Hung Chen and Raiheth Rawla, who will receive mentoring from Hermès. And the fashion innovation award ($33,000) went to Cyndi Rhoades of Worn Again Technologies, a resource-recovery start-up that makes “old” raw materials new again.
Martin Margiela, the very first winner of the ANDAM Prize, served as president of the jury. Naturally he was in absentia for tonight’s ceremony, but the designer agreed to weigh in exclusively for Vogue via email: “Over the last three decades, ANDAM has proven brilliantly the relevance of its concept by instituting these prizes for talent and daring, both materially and logistically. Young designers all know how vital its support is!”
Added Dufour: “I’m thrilled for Christelle because she has reached a level of maturity. This prize will give her the leverage she needs to expand internationally.”
“To me it’s particularly prestigious to win this year because Martin Margiela won it first, which makes it all the more magical in my eyes and can help a woman entrepreneur,” said Kocher. “I’m a free electron—I’m independent, and I’m serious about creative freedom and pursuing a vision that’s authentic and committed, and defending my idea of fashion. Today I believe that fashion has the power to affect positive change and champion the values Koché believes in, like inclusivity, diversity, openness, generosity. For me it’s very important to share those through creativity and fashion, which are my personal means of expression.” On her immediate agenda: several collaborations, two dance projects, encouraging other young designers—and building out menswear. “When something positive happens I feel like creating even more things,” she said.
Christelle Kocher of Koché Wins the ANDAM Prize in Paris
Originally Appeared on Vogue