GmbH, Area and Casablanca Among Finalists for ANDAM Prize

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Buzzy Berlin-based design duo Serhat Işık and Benjamin A. Huseby of the GmbH label — who were just named creative directors of Trussardi in Italy — are among seven finalists for the grand prize of the 2021 ANDAM Fashion Award.

Other contenders for the 300,000-euro award include London-based Grace Wales Bonner, winner of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers in 2016, and New York’s Area label, whose designers Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk employed almost half a million Swarovski crystals for their debut couture collection last January.

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Rounding out the list are London-based women’s wear designer Rok Hwang, who established his Rokh label in 2016; London-based men’s wear maven Bianca Saunders, also a finalist for this year’s LVMH Prize; Paris-based Ludovic de Saint-Sernin, who brought sexy back to the fashion arena; and French label Casablanca, whose founder Charaf Tajer has stated ambitions to develop a full lifestyle offering and become an Hermès for Gen Z.

The four nominees for the Pierre Bergé Prize, which focuses on young French companies and is worth 100,000 euros, are EgonLab, Ester Manas, Uniforme Paris and Charles de Vilmorin, a wunderkind who was named creative director of Rochas less than a year out of fashion’s starting blocks.

Meanwhile, the three contenders for the Accessories Prize, valued at 50,000 euros, are leather goods specialist Aswad, jeweler Samuel François and Austrian studio Published By, which makes chrome bags and silver jewelry.

The 14 finalists were chosen from more than 300 designers who applied for the awards.

Six of them are duos, reflecting a broader industry trend that suggests the demands in fashion are perhaps better shouldered by two people.

Nathalie Dufour, ANDAM’s managing director, noted that applicants came from almost every continent, mentioning Africa, Asia, Western and Eastern Europe. She credited the “allure of Paris” as a preeminent fashion capital — and a prize edition dynamized by this year’s president, Cédric Charbit, chief executive officer of Balenciaga.

The 2021 edition of the fashion prize features a star-studded list of guest jurors that include Lalisa Manobal, known simply as Lisa to Blackpink’s legion of fans, Chinese singer Chris Lee and fashion designers Kerby Jean-Raymond and Phoebe Philo, the latter making her first appearance on the fashion scene since exiting Celine at the end of 2017.

Charbit decided to fling the door open wide and make the jury more varied, “progressive,” and international to further fan interest in the 32nd edition of the annual design competition. Charbit will serve as a mentor for one year to the 2021 winner, to be declared on July 1.

Dufour noted that she expects all of the finalists to find their way to Paris to present their collections to the jury that day, with an open-air awards ceremony in the Palais Royal planned for the evening — one of the first big industry gatherings in the French capital since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an interview, Charbit lauded this year’s bumper crop of strong and diverse applicants, which prompted the jury to increase the number of Grand Prize finalists to seven from five, and to add a fourth contender for the Pierre Bergé Prize.

“The main criteria remain creativity, but in a context of diversity, and openness,” he said, lauding the enthusiasm and rigor of the jury. “Everyone was so into it, meeting every deadline, responding to every email and participating in every Zoom call.”

Dufour echoed that the slate of finalists represent a snapshot of the industry today, with gender-fluidity, sustainability, inclusivity and political and social engagement woven into their collections and brands.

Contenders for the grand prize can be of any nationality, but must own a French company or set one up during the same year as the receipt of the fellowship.

Other guest jury members include French singer and actress Lou Doillon; photographer Juergen Teller and his creative partner Dovile Drizyte; researcher and educator Linda Loppa; investor and entrepreneur Natalie Massenet; Amazon’s head of fashion direction Sally Singer; stylist Marie Chaix; stylist and fashion editor Suzanne Koller of M Le Monde magazine; editors Chioma Nnadi of Vogue.com and Pierre M’Pelé of The Perfect Magazine, and the Instagram account Pam Boy.

Created in 1989 by Dufour with the support of the French Ministry of Culture and the DEFI and with the late Pierre Bergé as president, ANDAM — the French acronym for National Association of the Development of the Fashion Arts — has been a springboard for designers who would go on to achieve international recognition.

Past winners include Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, Christophe Lemaire and Jeremy Scott.

ANDAM is also supported by large corporate sponsors, which now include Balenciaga, Chanel, Chloé, Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Galeries Lafayette, Google, Hermès, Kering, Lacoste, Longchamp, LVMH, L’Oréal Paris, OTB, Premiere Classe, Saint Laurent, Swarovski and Tomorrow. Executives from most of those firms comprise permanent members of the jury.

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