Ruchika Sachdeva has said of the past few months since winning the prestigious prize: “Just a few days after the awards ceremony, The Woolmark Company facilitated space for BODICE STUDIO at the London Showrooms in Paris whilst buyers from leading stores globally were in the city for Paris Fashion week. There we received many orders and amazing feedback on the collection. Winning the International Woolmark Prize has given BODICE STUDIO the launchpad to achieve all my dreams for the label. I’m continuing to use wool, its versatility, sustainable impacts and its sculptural beauty for the wearer is integral to what we do.”
A starting point for the collection were the colours of expressionist artist Tyeb Mehta (1925–2009). He developed a visual language to reflect the spirit of newly independent India. For the silhouettes, inspiration came from the swirling costumes of nautch dancers, who were highly educated, independent women, part of the refined Mughal culture of music and dance during the 18th and 19th centuries. The sensual grace and strength of the nautch are translated using the Bodice design signature to speak a powerful language of female identity.
Says Sachdeva, “When I first read the brief for the International Woolmark Prize collection, I recalled memories of the Kantha quilts my grandmother made for me as a baby. In West Bengal, women use Kantha (running stitches), hand sewing together layers of old saris into quilts for newborns. Cultural beliefs hold that the bonds between women who wore the saris, ensure the child’s protection. This cherished memory inspired the use of up-cycled wool for Kantha yarn, made by a state-of-the-art recycling facility in Mumbai. They collect, sort and shred post-consumer waste textiles into base fibre, which is then spun for re-use. By adding up-cycled Kantha to the silhouettes, we connected the urgency of addressing consumer waste in fashion with traditional techniques of recycling, and cultural beliefs in the spiritual power of cloth to affect our wellbeing.”
All of these inspirations serve to build on the BODICE STUDIO foundation of slow fashion designed for longevity and the non-conformist individual. Natural materials such as virgin wool, plant dyes and Ayurvedic herbs are united with cutting edge technology. Indian handloom sits alongside state-of-the-art mill fabrics. The clothes become beautiful stories that link past and future.
“One of the strengths of the International Woolmark Prize is supporting designers and brands dedicated to establishing themselves and growing their business in the global retail market,” said The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough. “More importantly, perhaps, is the opportunity to connect these designers with the world’s best spinners and mills, as well as with our global retail partners. Our retail network includes some of the world’s most influential major department stores and boutiques, who commercialise the winning International Woolmark Prize collections.”
Following a global search that nominated more than 33 emerging womenswear designers and 65 menswear designers from 21 countries across the world, BODICE STUDIO and Matthew Miller were chosen as the womenswear and menswear winners respectively at a prestigious final event held in Florence in January 2018. The International Woolmark Prize is a long-term program designed to nurture and support designers throughout their career with a focus on innovation across fabric development and processing to improve the overall impact of collections on the environment and the wearer to ensure the International Woolmark Prize continues to push the boundaries of global fashion.