Born in Uruguay and raised on a sheep farm, the New York-based designer was praised for her technical innovation and quality craftsmanship.
“What she does is what the future of the industry looks like. I call these items investments – if you buy wool garments of that quality then you buy it to last forever and I believe there’s a great future for her brand,” said CEO and founder, Fashion Tech Labs and Buro 24/7 Miroslava Duma.
“From a personal perspective I wish my grandfather and father were here,” said Gabriela Hearst after the win. “As a designer it’s a huge honour to be recognised and I cannot wait to promote more Merino wool in the world as I believe it is the yarn of future.”
Hearst’s muse for her final collection was WW2 Italian journalist, author, and political interviewer Oriana Fallaci.
“She interviewed the most dangerous men on the planet,” Hearst said of the late Fallaci. “She was not afraid of asking the hard questions, and she has so many qualities that I admire in a woman – she was tough and fearless. But underneath the toughness is always a sensitive human being.”
Hearst’s International Woolmark Prize collection presents sleek silhouettes with updates on trench coats, pleats and an evening dress teamed with the more utilitarian baseball jacket with adjoining scarf, one-piece long johns, reversible puffer vest and cycling trousers. Using ultrafine 14.5 micron Merino wool for luxurious knitwear, though to 21.5 micron wool to create a wool-velvet fabrication, Hearst’s clean cuts and precision offers a collection set to stand the test of time.
“We picked Gabriela because we thought she struck a chord on every level: a passion for wool, its history, and the varied uses of wool,” said British Fashion Council Chair Dame Natalie Massenet DBE. “I learned a lot hearing her talking about the processes and the fact wool doesn’t wrinkle. She did a very good job of showing high-low, from evening gowns through to trench coats and pant suits and we feel that she will have an enormous future and will be great spokesperson for wool.”
More than 75 designers from more than 60 countries were nominated for this year’s award, with finalists representing six different regions around the world. The womenswear finalists were TOTON (Asia), macgraw (Australia & New Zealand), Faustine Steinmetz (British Isles), Tim Labenda (Europe), Nachiket Barve (India, Pakistan & the Middle East) and Gabriela Hearst (USA).
Gabriela Hearst will now receive AU$100,000 to help support the development of their business. They will also receive ongoing industry mentor support, Woolmark certification for their winning collection and the opportunity to be stocked in some of the world’s most prestigious department stores and boutiques. These include Boutique 1, Boon the Shop, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, Hudson’s Bay Company, Isetan, Lane Crawford, LECLAIREUR, mytheresa.com, The Papilion and ssense.com. All finalists’ collections will also become available for wholesale purchase via Ordre.com.
The Woolmark Company is pleased to have the support of official drinks partner Wine Australia, The Westin Paris - Vendôme, along with TONI&GUY, makeup by MAC and health and wellness brand Potion for the 2016/17 International Woolmark Prize global final.