The International Woolmark Prize Finalists Star in a Saint Heron Film

Solange’s newly expanded creative agency shares a meditative film in celebration of this year’s prize, which honors emerging fashion talent showcasing the versatility of Australian Merino wool.

Still from “Passage” a new short film commissioned by Saint Heron and directed by Wu Tsang to commemorate the 2021 International Woolmark Prize finalists

The International Woolmark Prize has helped incubate some of the fashion industry’s marquee names—Giorgio Armani, Gabriela Hearst, and Emily Bode are all recipients. Perhaps one of the prize’s most recognizable moments from its seven-decade history comes from a celebratory photograph, dating back to 1954, that depicts a young Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent posing together on stage after having received top honors in the prize’s coat and dress categories.

That iconic photograph has now inspired a new short film, called Passage, that commemorates this year’s crop of finalists. Conceived by Saint Heron (the newly expanded creative agency founded by Solange Knowles), directed by MacArthur Fellowship winning artist Wu Tsang, and styled by Ib Kamara, the meditative short film offers a compelling study in sound and style in which musicians and actors such as Dionne Warwick, SahBabii, Dominique Jackson, Joi, and KeiyaA model the apparel by this year’s finalists. 

With a surrealist bent, the film depicts each artist flowing gracefully across theatrical backdrops ranging from outdoor platforms to unoccupied sound stages to empower the designers’ voices while exploring sustainability and the creative process. “In continuing Saint Heron’s world-making practice, Passage further explores my interest in theatrical production through the translation of identity, spirit, philosophy, and creation,” Knowles said in a statement. “Whether it be through album artwork, stage design, or filmmaking, I’ve always sought to create new visual languages that encompass the expressions my other works cannot communicate. I’ve been a longtime fan of Wu Tsang’s work and to be able to work alongside her, the Saint Heron team, and all of the incredible artists and designers in the film really fortifies the ethos of collaboration and communal creative exchange that we wish to continue to embody.”

The finalists of the 2021 International Woolmark Prize include the UK’s Bethany Williams and Matty Bovan, France’s Casablanca, Nigeria’s Kenneth Ize, Canada’s Lecavalier, and South Africa’s Thebe Magugu. This year, they were asked to present a Merino wool collection focused on sustainability and transparency throughout the supply chain. Each finalist is up for three accolades—the titular prize, the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, and the newly introduced Woolmark Supply Chain Award—that will be selected by a panel of judges featuring fashion’s most prestigious names such as Carine Roitfeld, Thom Browne, and Tim Blanks.

“Solange has long been a champion of emerging talent, sharing common values with our talent program, exploring the evolution and process of creative design and innovation,” says Stuart McCullough, the Woolmark Company’s CEO. “[Her] creative direction for our campaign film, Passage, allows the work of our six finalists to be brought to life and truly shine.” Though the winners won’t be announced until June 10, starring in Passage feels like a victory in and of itself. View the film below:

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