For The First Time Ever, The LVMH Prize for Young Designers Finalists Includes Two African Designers

Photo: Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images/Getty Images.
On Wednesday, LVMH announced the eight finalists for its highly-regarded LVMH Prize for Young Designers, and for the first time ever, designers from Nigeria and South Africa have made the cut.
Now in its sixth year, the prize is awarded to fashion designers who have produced at least two collections and are under the age of 40. This year's finalists are Nigeria's Kenneth Ize, South Africa's Thebe Magugu, Anrealage, Bethany Williams, Bode, Hed Mayner, Phipps, and Stefan Cooke. Culled from a group of 20-semi finalists, the octet was selected by 63 international fashion heavyweights, including J.W. Anderson, Nicolas Ghesquiére, Marc Jacobs, and Maria Grazia Chiuri. This is the first time the annual competition will take place without Karl Lagerfeld.
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“We are very proud of the international dimension of the prize. It’s really what sets it apart,” Delphine Arnault, the force behind the initiative, tells WWD. “The LVMH Prize is global. It reflects the fact that fashion is now a global market, with a capacity to reach and to touch more and more people, namely thanks to the Internet.”
“I love the fact that I get to showcase what’s actually happening in the country through my clothing,” South African womenswear designer Magugu tells WWD. “I feel like it’s been largely overlooked as a country that adds anything to fashion, but I think there’s something quite exciting and bubbling happening right now. Hopefully I won’t be the first and the last.” Nigerian designer Ize says the competition has felt like a dream. “I went to school because I never saw any African designers,” he tells WWD.
The winner of the competition will receive a grant of €300,000 (about $420,000 U.S.) and 12 months of assistance from a special LVMH team to help develop their company. The mentorship will focus on matters of intellectual property, sourcing, production and distribution, and marketing. In previous years, Doublet (2018), Marine Serre (2017), Grace Wales Bonner (2016), Marques’Almeida (2015), and Thomas Tait (2014) have each taken home the prize, and seen considerable success since.
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