The Antwerp-based designer bagged the prestigious prize at a glitzy ceremony this week
Antwerp-based designer Christian Wijnants has won this year’s prestigious International Woolmark European Prize.
The Belgian award-winner beat off stiff competition from the likes of JW Anderson, James Long and Olympia Le Tan to scoop the accolade, and was chosen by an impressive panel including Giles Deacon, Alber Elbaz, Dean and Dan Carter from DSquared and editor of style.com Tim Blanks.
Announcing the winner after hours of judging, Alber Elbaz, the creative director of Lanvin, revealed he felt ‘like Heidi Klum’.
The International Woolmark Prize celebrates emerging talent for their use of merino wool. Previous winners include Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.
Explaining why Wijnant was chosen, Elbaz said: ‘Christian’s work was right for the project, it was about knitwear, construction and technique.’
Wijnant wins £32,000 and will now go onto the finals to be held at London Fashion Week in February 2013, where he will compete against four other finalists from the USA, China, Australia and India.
The international winner will have their designs stocked by leading global retailers including Bergdorf Goodman in the States, Harvey Nichols in the UK, 10 Corso Como in Italy, Joyce in China, Eickoff in Germany and David Jones in Australia.
Wijnant said of his win: ‘I am very pleased and honoured for the respect I have received from the judges. We are human beings and it’s important for us to stay true to the natural fibre and what nature has to offer.’
The designer previously worked as creative assistant for Dries Van Noten before launching his own label in 2003.