The world’s most important fashion prizes

The oldest resort town on the French Riviera, Hyères, might be best known as a holiday destination. But this week it also became a fashion hotspot, when the Portuguese designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista and Harvey Nichols’ fashion director, Paula Reed, were among those in town to judge the 28th International Festival of Fashion & Photography; winner to be announced on Monday April 29.

Ten shortlisted designers, including Damien Ravn from Norway and Xing Su from Canada, presented catwalk shows in the hope of winning the grand prize of €15,000, and making the leap from newcomer to established figure – as did former winners Viktor & Rolf, Gaspard Yurkievich, and Marc Le Bihan. For while these prizes – and there are a number of them – might be little known by the general public, they can make or break a young designer’s career, helping them fund their first collections and thus ultimately influencing what we wear.

In 1954 a young Karl Lagerfeld and the late Yves Saint Laurent were winners of the International Woolmark Prize, a similar competition. The following year, Lagerfeld went to work for designer Pierre Balmain, and Saint Laurent was named head designer at Dior. Half a century on, the competition is still a major coup for any designer; according to this year’s winner, Christian Wijnants, “Two weeks after winning the Woolmark award I had my first show in Paris and we sold the collection to retailers worldwide.”

The New York designer Angel Chang, who won the Ecco Domani fashion award in 2007, a few months after showing her first collection. She says: “I only had enough money to produce one collection and thought I would just return to my corporate day job afterwards. But the award allowed me to present a second collection, which led to my first investors.”

So who will be the next names to vault into the public eye? Here is our guide to the 10 most important competitions to watch, and why.

Glittering prizes

What: The International Festival of Fashion & Photography – Hyères, founded 1985, is a springboard for launching new designers

When: late April-May

Prize: €15,000

Famous winner: Viktor & Rolf

Most recent winners: Siiri Raasakka, Tiia Siren and Elina Laitinen

Insiders involved: Karl Lagerfeld, Dries Van Noten, Raf Simons, Yohji Yamamoto

What: The Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation, founded in 2001 by Ecco Domani Wines to support emerging designers

When: January

Prize: $25,000 grant for their runway show plus the opportunity to show a collection at New York Fashion Week.

Famous winners: Zac Posen, Derek Lam, Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Joseph Altuzarra and Prabal Gurung

Most recent winners: TOME, Ian Velardi, Deborah Pagani

Insiders involved: Sally Singer (Creative Director for Digital at Vogue); Kim Hastreiter (editor-in-chief and publisher of Paper magazine)

What: The International Woolmark Prize, established in 1953 as the first prize for young fashion designers focusing on wool

When: February (competition starts the previous July)

Prize: A$100,000 plus an opportunity to sell at selected retailers including Harvey Nichols and Bergdorf Goodman

Famous winners: Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent

Most recent winner: Christian Wijnants

Insiders involved: Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Balmain, Donatella Versace, Diane von Furstenberg, Victoria Beckham

What: The Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize, established in 2010 and known for encouraging and supporting young emerging talent

When: October (grand final)

Prize: £25,000, a two-night stay at a Dorchester Collection hotel, the prospect of one-to-one mentoring from a selection of the judges, help with PR in key global markets

Famous winner: Thomas Tait

Most recent winner: Augustin Teboul

Insiders involved: Daphne Guinness, Manolo Blahnik, Stephen Jones

What: ANDAM (National Association for the Development of the Fashion Arts), founded in 1989 by Nathalie Dufour under the initiative of the French Ministry of Culture and the DEFI, to establish and develop their label in France

When: July

Prize: The ANDAM Fashion Award is €325,000, while the First Collections Prize offers a €75,000 grant and the opportunity to present collections during Paris Fashion Week. Vogue Paris also offer editorial coverage and support

Famous winners: Martin Margiela, Gareth Pugh, Richard Nicholl

Most recent winners: Piece d’Anarchive, Julien David

Insiders involved: Alber Elbaz, Carine Roitfeld, Emmanuelle Alt

What: Fashion Fringe, founded in 2003, offers emerging designers the chance to launch their label in London

When: September, during London Fashion Week

Prize: studio space for up to two years (four seasons) at London’s Somerset House, support for a trip to Paris for sales events, financial support for the following season at London Fashion Week and ongoing mentoring and business consultancy from the Fashion Fringe team and extended family

Famous winners: Erdem, Basso & Brooke

Most recent winner: Haizhen Wang

Insiders involved: Bruno Frisoni, Christopher Bailey, Colin McDowell

What: CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Launched in 2003, the Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue fund was created as an endowment to support the next generation of American fashion designers

When: November

Prize: $300,000 for the winner and $100,000 for each of the runners-up. Business mentoring from an established team of professionals

Famous winners: Joseph Altuzarra, Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler

Most recent winner: Greg Chait of The Elder Statesman

Insiders involved: Anna Wintour, Diane Von Furstenburg, Andrew Rosen

What: BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. Launched in September 2008, the fund aims to assist talented British designers with the potential for commercial growth in transitioning from a developing business to a global fashion brand

When: late January

Prize: £200,000 and mentoring from the country’s leading industry figures

Famous winners: Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Kane, Erdem

Most recent winner: Nicholas Kirkwood

Insiders involved: Alexandra Shulman, Harold Tillman, Samantha Cameron

What: FDCI/Vogue Fashion Fund. Started in India in 2012 in collaboration with the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the fund brings together a panel of industry experts to identify six finalists and one winner

When: September

Prize: Fashion shoot in Vogue India, year-long business/creative/marketing mentorship with an industry professional, cash prize, access to prominent fashion platforms in the industry, mentorship from Vogue, PR support and media coverage

Current winner: Aneeth Arora, founder of Pero

Insiders involved: Priya Tanna, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Suneet Varma

What: Vogue Italia’s ‘Who Is On Next’, launched in 2005 in collaboration with Alta Roma, a contest targeted specifically to designers who already produce their own made-in-Italy creations. A menswear category was opened in 2009

When: July, during Altaroma fashion week

Prize: The opportunity to take part in Altaroma fashion week in Rome, present their collection during the fashion week in Milan (Milano Moda Donna) and have a shoot published in Vogue Italia

Past winners: Aquilano Rimondi, Gabriele Colangelo, Marco Di Vincenzo

Current winners: Marcobologna (clothes), Giancarlo Petriglia (accessories)

Insiders involved: Franca Sozzani, Anna Laub, and Suzy Menkes

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