In a year of fashion films, the International Woolmark Prize’s is the rare example that actually rivals an IRL experience. Pre-pandemic, the IWP always staged a show at the end of London Fashion Week to unveil the work of its six finalists. This year, that group includes Bethany Williams, Casablanca’s Charaf Tajer, Kenneth Ize, Marie-Eve Lecavalier, Thebe Magugu, and Matty Bovan, who were tasked with creating sustainable, traceable looks in merino wool. Since a show wasn’t possible this spring, the IWP turned to video.
The result is a far cry from your typical slo-mo catwalk: They brought in Solange Knowles’s multidisciplinary platform, Saint Heron, to create an immersive six-minute film that reveals the designers’ collections and reflects the extraordinary circumstances they were created in. Titled “Passage” and directed by Wu Tsang, it follows the six stages of creation—contemplation, courage, optimism, vulnerability, discipline, and strength—and features musical cameos by Dionne Warwick, Dominique Jackson, Joi, and KeiyaA.
“Solange’s creative direction for our campaign film ‘Passage’ allows the work of our six finalists to be brought to life and truly shine,” Stuart McCullough, the Woolmark Company’s CEO, shared in a release. “With this year’s award going completely digital, aligning with Saint Heron is a natural fit as we communicate the future of fashion and uncover the design leaders of tomorrow.”
Knowles tells Vogue: “Embarking on this from a theatrical license really helped us to explore the concept of ‘theater as life’ through the beautiful designs of the finalists. Creating community through collaborations like these builds a collective frequency of perspectives seeking personal and communal connection through spirit and vision. I feel really proud of the space Saint Heron has been able to build with ‘Passage’ as a collective team of collaborators and the veins that run though the film because of that.”
The designers’ looks are introduced in six cinematic acts, from Bovan’s draped pannier to Williams’s patchworked corset and Lecavalier’s textural popcorn knits. In two weeks, the jury will choose the winner of the International Woolmark Prize, who will receive 200,000 Australian pounds, as well as the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation winner, who will receive 100,000 Australian pounds. For the first time, this year includes a third distinction: the Woolmark Supply Chain Award, which will celebrate a trade partner and drive awareness for wool supply chain innovation.
Watch the film and see the finalists’ collections here, and come back in two weeks to find out who’s taking home the top prizes.
Originally Appeared on Vogue