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UAE labels nominated for coveted Woolmark Prize

Three UAE fashion labels have been nominated from the Middle East and India region for the 2014/15 International Woolmark Prize, one of the most coveted international fashion awards.

The annual prize, sponsored by the Australian wool industry, was first awarded to Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld in 1954 and is held in a different fashion capital every year.

Emirati label House of Fatam, along with two Dubai-based names, Emperor 1688 and Kage, will compete with 62 designers from countries in five regions — Asia, Europe, USA, Australia and Middle East and India — for the Dh350,000 prize to be announced next year.

The three labels were nominated by Fashion Forward (FFWD), the twice-yearly fashion week-style event in Dubai, which has just been named an official nominating body for the prize.

House of Fatam was founded by Emirati sisters Lamya, Shaima and Fatma Gargash, while Emperor 1688 is run by the Golkar brothers Babak, Haman and Farhan. Kage was founded in Dubai in 2009 by friends Arwa Abdul Hadi and Basma Abu Gazaleh.

The award this year will include a menswear category for the first time.

“FFWD is honoured to be given this opportunity to nominate talent from our region,” said Bong Guerrero, founder and CEO of FFWD. “The design talent in the Middle East is outstanding and we are delighted to put forward these deserving nominations for the men’s and women’s wear categories.

“We chose three designers who met and exceeded the IWP global criteria for this prestigious award. [They] have shown exceptional talent and represent perfectly the diversity and quality of Middle Eastern designers.”

Five regional awards will be first held where two winners, one in menswear and one in womenswear, will each receive a AU$50,000 (Dh170,000) financial contribution towards their next collection as well as an invitation to participate in the international final. The five menswear finalists will meet at London Collections: Men in January 2015 and the five womenswear finalists will meet in Beijing in March 2015. The overall winners, one in menswear and one in womenswear, will each receive the main prize of Dh350,000 to assist with fabric sourcing and marketing of their collection.

Both international winners will have their collection sold at international retail partners including Harvey Nichols in the UK, Joyce in China, Saks Fifth Avenue in the USA, Colette in France, 10 Corso Como in Italy, My Theresa online and David Jones in Australia.

The nominee designers are required to present the sketches of a Merino wool capsule collection comprising six outfits, with one full outfit to be produced at the Middle East and India regional award to be held in India later this year. The collections will be judged by a panel of local and international experts, whose names will be announced soon.

Indain designer Rahul Mishra, who paid tribute to India’s craft industry, won the main prize last year, and was honoured by Gucci’s creative director Frida Giannini at a star-studded event at the Milan Fashion Week.

For more on the prize, go to woolmarkprize.com.