There is something joyful, on this sunny Parisian day, facing the spectacle that is taking shape before our eyes: in a showroom of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, designed by Frank Gehry, a myriad of fashion creations unfold like small architectures declined in linen, silk and other fabrics made with care around the world. Their authors are the nine finalists for the LVMH Prize, which accompanies young fashion talents each year. Among the winners of previous editions are now recognized designers, such as Marine Serre, Nensi Dojaka and Steven Stokey-Daley. Coming from all over the world (Italy, Ukraine, Jamaica, Japan, France...), the finalists of this 10th edition barely contain the emotions that overwhelm them a few minutes before the announcement of the winner.
At their side, the eleven prestigious members of the jury (including Nicolas Ghesquière, Marc Jacobs, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Stella McCartney, Silvia Venturini Fendi...) are gathered here to determine which of the candidates will be awarded the prize, as well as a donation of 400,000 euros and a year of mentorship funded by LVMH, the world leader in luxury.
Created in 2013 by Delphine Arnault (current CEO of Dior), this award "reflects the state of fashion in today's world," she says. Delphine Arnault is a businesswoman passionate about young creation. In ten years, the prize has acquired an indisputable reputation and legitimacy, highlighting talents that are now confirmed. This year, 2,400 candidates from all over the world competed, representative of the cultural diversity and creative audacity that drives the young guard. The winner of the 2023 LVMH Prize, whose name was unveiled by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, is Japanese fashion designer Satoshi Kuwata (founder of the Setchu brand), whose creations are small works of art and balance. For this anniversary edition, the jury also exceptionally awarded two Karl Lagerfeld prizes, one to Julie Pelipas, Ukrainian designer, founder of the Better brand, and the other to Luca Magliano, Italian designer author of the Magliano unisex collections. Delphine Arnault comments, not without emotion, how the LVMH Prize has injected new blood into the style industry for ten years.
In video, Behind the scenes of the 10th edition of the LVMH Prize
Mrs. Figaro. – What was your driving force when you launched the LVMH Prize in 2013?
Delphine Arnault.– As the world's leading luxury group, we have a duty to identify young talent. Our first mission was to help them reveal themselves and develop their brand, without aiming for a counterpart. Over time, the LVMH Prize has grown to become an essential prize, a reference for young designers. It is a great satisfaction for us to see the designers who have been chosen over these ten editions assert themselves. They have brilliant careers. I am impressed by their recklessness because I know, from experience, that someone who launches his brand must be armed with a lot of will and audacity: the beginnings are often made with very small teams. Most of the 2023 finalists launched their brand during Covid. We feel in them the urgency to create, but also the awareness of being ready to accomplish an entrepreneurial task that requires extreme demand.
It is important that there are no barriers, that as many people as possible can apply
What makes this award unique?
The specificity of the LVMH Prize is its eclecticism and international scope: it is open to all nationalities. This year, we had candidates from Ukraine (Julie Pelipas, the winner of the Lagerfeld Prize), from all over Europe or Jamaica. Applicants simply need to register online. It is important that there are no barriers, that as many people as possible can apply. We also have a unique jury, composed of artistic directors of prestigious houses who bring a dimension of great legitimacy to this prize.
What are the memories that have marked you the most during these ten editions?
Some moments spent with Marine Serre, who was only on her second collection when she won the LVMH Prize in 2017. Now his brand is recognized worldwide. His work was distinguished by a desire to combine fashion with the human, beauty with upcycling. Many designers have seen their talent highlighted thanks to this prize, which is a great satisfaction for us: this is the case of Simon Porte Jacquemus, with his label Jacquemus, winner of the special prize in 2015, Nensi Dojaka, winner of the 2021 edition, or Thebe Magugu, the first candidate from the African continent to win the LVMH Prize in 2019. I have very beautiful memories shared with Karl Lagerfeld, who supported me in the creation of this competition. Karl was invaluable for this award and was very involved. He was always interested in young designers and spent a lot of time with them during the semi-finals and finals. They inspired each other. I learned a lot by listening to his exchanges with them. He himself began his career at the age of 21 at an award where he was in the final with Yves Saint Laurent.
What transformations have you observed over the ten years within the young creation?
It is very important for us to discover how fashion changes over time: when we started, there was still a classic divide between women's fashion on the one hand and men's fashion on the other, whereas today most brands are genderless, just as sportswear mixes with haute couture. Similarly, attention to sustainable development has become an integral part of the concerns of every young designer.
The younger generations are increasingly reconnecting with the sure values of know-how and quality of materials
How do you support the winners?
We offer them a donation, but also a mentoring program. Young creators always have plenty of questions to ask: what about production? Should we make a second line? Should we get into leather goods, shoes, perfumes? We try to answer all their questions. As soon as they set up their brand, they are confronted with management, financial aspects: cash, working capital, payment for fabrics... These points are crucial, and these young talents are not specially prepared for them.
What do you admire about the work of Setchu, this year's winner?
The meticulous and extraordinary attention he pays to the cuts of his clothes – this is a concern that is very present among young designers. His search for fabrics, weight, grain and touch of materials is also admirable. All its manufactures are eco-responsible and genderless. Her dresses are minimalist and her pieces are conceptual and modular: you can transform a sweater in four or five different ways, which allows you to present it differently each time you wear it. Satoshi Kuwata (the founder of Setchu, editor's note) is older than most of the candidates but, after all, Christian Dior created his house at the age of 42... To compete, creators must be between 18 and 40 years old. From my point of view, 40 years is still very young.
Among the finalists of the last editions, we can notice a valorization of traditional crafts ...
Absolutely. The younger generations are increasingly reconnecting with the sure values of know-how and quality of materials. They are inspired by the past and tradition: this is the case of Burc Akyol – Franco-Turkish finalist of this edition – whose grandfather was a tailor, or the winner of the 2022 edition, the Englishman Steven Stokey-Daley, of S.S. Daley, whose grandmother was a seamstress. Transmission is essential in fashion. Maria Grazia Chiuri (artistic director of Dior), for example, collaborates with an embroidery school in Mumbai, where young women learn techniques that are passed down from one generation to the next. I went with her, and it was exciting.
Gal Gadot, actress
Gal Gadot and Satoshi Kuwata. Photo Matias Indjic.
"It is extremely important for me to support new generations of artists in all disciplines. I am particularly sensitive to fashion, because it reveals the incessant change of mores. This prize is therefore an essential initiative for me because it allows young designers from all countries and social conditions to access their dreams. Without even winning, many finalists from previous editions have become key players in fashion, such as the late Virgil Abloh (in 2015, he reached the final of the LVMH Prize, with his brand Off-White, editor's note). The finalists I met at this edition are impressively talented. I was very impressed by the creative audacity of the winner, Satoshi Kuwata, with his label Setchu. His clothes have a sculptural lightness, they seem to float in space."
Gal Gadot opens Agent Stone on August 11 on Netflix.
Who is Satoshi Kuwata, the Japanese who won the LVMH 2023 prize?
Satoshi Kuwata, Japanese designer, winner of the 2023 LVMH Prize
"Winning the LVMH Prize is a bit like winning the holy grail for a designer. I was born in Japan, and after living in London, Paris and New York, where I worked for luxury houses, I launched my clothing line in Milan, in 2020. The name of my label Setchu comes from the Japanese expression wayo setchu, which means "a compromise between Japanese culture and Western culture". It is this hyphen that I try to translate in my creations, as with the Origami jacket that recalls both the kimono and the blazer. I see clothing as a way of sculpting the human body with fabric. My parents always told me the word mottainai, which means "do not waste": so I study how to design a garment using materials sparingly, which forces me to be more inventive. My creations are therefore adjustable, convertible. I defend the idea of responsible fashion by working with local artisans, weavers. This award will allow me to grow my label, strengthen my team, develop my website... And reassure my mother: as a child, I was a (little) terrible child and she was worried about my future."
Maria Grazia Chiuri, artistic director of the Christian Dior women's collections and member of the jury
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Steven Stokey-Daley Photo Matias Indjic.
"For ten years, the LVMH Prize has represented for me a way to be at the heart of creation, to integrate new visions that renew fashion. Last year, Steven Stokey-Daley seduced us with his creations that reinterpret the uniforms of English schools. I am always moved by the audacity of the finalists, their way of presenting their project with a visionary eye and a lot of clarity. I admire the work of the 2023 winner, Satoshi Kuwata with his label Setchu. It has an architectural vision of clothing, a minimalist spirit and lines that evoke the constructions of Tadao Ando. We immediately see that he studied in England: he draws on several cultures and manages to extract the essential traits of each, without distorting his inner flame. He is very attentive to the challenges of eco-responsibility and this is noticeable in every detail, right down to the packaging and transport of his products, because he avoids any overload of consumption. "
Steven Stokey-Daley, English designer, winner of the 2022 LVMH Prize
"My S.S. Daley label aims to shake up the traditional view of British heritage (from which I take classics like the trench coat) through exaggerated cuts and silhouettes, romantic fabrics and theatrical staging. I'm originally from Liverpool and I founded my label in 2020 during lockdown, after graduation. It's very moving for me to be back here: I remember every moment I experienced last year when I was awarded the award. I appreciate the opportunities he has given me and the incredible skill set that the mentoring year has given me. During the semi-final of the award, I had the chance to meet players in the fashion industry (buyers, publishers, journalists) as well as the great designers who are part of the jury and who showed me their support. It is difficult to explain what a young creator feels when meeting his heroines and heroes – Maria Grazia Chiuri, Stella McCartney, Nicolas Ghesquière... My philosophy has changed a lot in the last year. I was helped to make my brand global, to develop sales centers everywhere and to shine!"
Xin Liu, Chinese pop star, Dior ambassador
Xin Liu and Luca Magliano. Photo Matias Indjic.
"I was very moved when I announced the names of the two winners of the Karl Lagerfeld Award. I had the impression that Mr. Lagerfeld was present and always there to inspire fashion. I am a singer, dancer, performer, and I consider that today the arts communicate more than ever. The link between fashion and music, especially urban music, has never been stronger. I started studying ballet at the age of 10 at the same time as street dance, and I continued my studies at the Beijing School of Contemporary Music, then at the Higher School of Art and Culture of Tianjin University. I find myself in the interdisciplinary journey of the finalists of the LVMH Prize. This is a common characteristic among all artists of the younger generation."
Luca Magliano, Italian designer, founder of the Magliano label, co-winner of the Karl Lagerfeld Prize 2023
"I feel immense gratitude. This award marks a new milestone for my label, the opportunity to be visible internationally after five years of hard work. My fashion? A minimalist men's wardrobe inspired by currents of Italian cinema, such as neorealism to which I am very attached. I come from the province of Bologna and a simple, popular culture, carrying the artistic values of the Italia povera, where nothing should be wasted. Upcycling has always been present in my collections, because it brings meaning and poetry. I launched Magliano in 2017 in my region, known for its clothing factories. Passionate about knitwear, I have a taste for the strange, the imperfect and creation contrary to bourgeois rules and conventions."
Julie Pelipas, Ukrainian designer, founder of the Bettter brand, co-winner of the Karl Lagerfeld Prize 2023
Julie Pelipas. Photo Matias Indjic.
"After co-founding Ukrainian editions of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, in 2019 I launched my locally produced minimalist clothing collection made from deadstocks – leftovers or unsold inventory. All the women in my family were seamstresses. The collections of my Bettter label are also inspired by my career: as a teenager, I sewed my grandfather's costumes in my own way and wore them to go to high school. My eco-responsible ethic comes from there: the clothes I saw created at home were designed to be worn throughout life. All the pieces I create come from recycling, and each one has its passport, which traces its manufacturing process. I hope this trophy will help me export this philosophy on a large scale."
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Marc Jacobs, creator and member of the Jury
Nensi Dojaka and Marc Jacobs. Photo Matias Indjic.
"The LVMH Prize is truly Delphine Arnault's baby, and it has become a great way to highlight young talents like Nensi Dojaka, winner of the prize two years ago, or Satoshi Kuwata this year. It's always an exciting time of my year to see the next generation of fashion blossom."
Nensi Dojaka, Albanian designer, winner of the 2021 LVMH Prize
"This award changed my life: it gave me the opportunity to develop my collections and my label internationally. I graduated from Central Saint Martins (2019), and I live and work in London. I create a graphic ready-to-wear, with organic materials, by associating corsets and lingerie with tailoring pieces, such as well-cut tailor pants. I launched my brand just as the pandemic started, which made my debut pretty challenging. The award has given me financial support as well as visibility and recognition within the fashion industry. It has allowed my brand to reach a much wider audience. The year of mentoring was probably the best aspect of the LVMH Prize for me. I acquired essential business management skills for which I had not been trained or prepared: intellectual property, production, suppliers, legal aspects... My brand changes and grows with me."