The pandemic may have forced the International Woolmark Prize to go fully digital for the first time last year – but it has inspired a new hybrid approach for 2022, beginning with a new film that showcases the collections of this year’s finalists: Ahluwalia, Egonlab, Jordan Dalah, MMUSOMAXWELL, Peter Do, Rui and Saul Nash.
“This year, we wanted to have a physical event, but also use film as well because it allows us to really amplify some of those really important narratives about wool’s capabilities,” Woolmark’s CEO John Roberts tells Vogue. “Digital films allow us to reach a much larger audience.”
Following on from last year’s collaboration with Solange’s creative agency Saint Heron, Woolmark enlisted FKA Twigs to direct and star in this year’s film. Encapsulating the prize’s theme for 2022, “Play”, the finalists’ designs are worn by Twigs, Kai-Isaiah Jamal, Princess Julia and other dancers as they move around a series of sculptures – or “playscapes” – by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi.
“It’s been an absolute honour to help showcase the work of this year’s finalists, some of the most innovative talent I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with, on this film,” Twigs says via email. “I’ve loved capturing the playfulness of the collections through movement. These designs really encompass a sense of freedom and creative expression, and after so much time isolated from each other, I think we’re all ready to come out and play.”
“There’s a real degree of excitement and playfulness, as people come out of lockdown,” Roberts adds, when asked about this year’s theme. “We want to see how that’s impacted designers and fashion and where everything’s heading – and it creates a nice opening for designers to get really creative. We’re always excited to see what the designers are going to come up with in terms of new applications of [wool]. What we really want to do is shift the mindset away from the traditional perceptions of wool.”