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Vol.08  Issue 04/03, 12.04.2008

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Text sourcing : Pitti Immagine. Photos : Copyright © 2008, Tomoko Oka. All rights reserved.




Pitti Immagine & Australian Wool Innovation

The Protégé Project



Pitti & AWI

Kristian Aadnevik


"The Protégé Project", launched in June 2007 during Pitti Immagine, was approaching its final phase and culminated in a big event held on the evening of the 10th of January 2008 at Palazzo Corsini in Florence.

The talent of young and highly promising five designers was shown during a 5 in 1 catwalk in which they were the protagonists along with Australian Merino Wool.

The five "protégés" hold their breath while their Merino wool collections paraded on the catwalk before the eyes of the exclusive audience and of their mentors.


Pitti & AWI

Julian Louie



The Project

"Desperately seeking new talent" is the latest banner of the fashion industry, ready to sponsor the promotion of events and talent-scouting contests to find the promising fashion design stars of tomorrow.

Who's on Next, Mittlemoda, ITS are just some of the initiatives launched last year and supported by the most prestigious names and companies in the fashion business.



Pitti & AWI

Jean-Pierre Braganza



Along the same lines, The Protégé Project has arrived; a project supported by Australian Wool Innovation, the largest organisation of Australian Merino wool producers. The initiative evokes the Renaissance tradition of patronage: five top names in the field of international Fashion Design have chosen and will introduce their young protégés to the world.

There's something else which calls for celebration: the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first bale of Merino wool to Europe from Australia. Two centuries of quality, luxury and fashion leadership.



Pitti & AWI

Jean-Pierre Braganza



KARL LAGERFELD, DONATELLA VERSACE, FRANCISCO COSTA for CALVIN KLEIN, PAUL SMITH E FRANCA SOZZANI, have all enthusiastically joined this project, offering Jean-Pierre Braganza, Kristian Aadnevik, Julian Louie, Ioannis Cholidis e Sandra Backlund the unique opportunity to see their names shine next to their patron's.

The challenge for each of these young designers was to create a whole collection with Australian Merino wool as the primary focus. By their side, to interpret the precious yarn with contemporary creativity, the most glorious names in the world textile panorama: Cerruti, Ermenegildo Zegna, Loro Piana, Reda, Vitale Barberis Canonico, Chiavazza, Zegna Baruffa. Among the partners joining in the 200th anniversary celebrations are Sistema Moda Italia, Federazione Imprese Tessili and Moda Italiane.



Pitti & AWI

Sandra Backlund




Karl Lagerfeld - Karl Otto Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg but moved to Paris, where, in 1955 he won a competition for a coat sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat. This acknowledgement helped him become a young apprentice at Pierre Balmain who actually produced the coat Karl had designed and that won him first prize.
Three years later, he was awarded a position as creative director at Jean Patou, a 5-year-association during which Karl also explored other passions such as history, music and architecture. At the end of the 60's, he began collaborating with Fendi, before taking the position of chief executive designer at the House of Chanel in 1983. In 1984 he launched his own collection "Karl Lagerfeld".

Jean-Pierre Braganza - Born in London to an Asian father and Irish mother, as a child Jean-Pierre moved to Canada where he attended fashion college before moving back to London to finish his studies at St. Martin's School. His exceptional skills made him stand out, and, after graduation he was offered the chance to cooperate with Cary-Williams and Roland Mouret, from whom he inherited his love and appreciation for detail. His Men's and Womenswear collection was acclaimed at the 2004 edition of the London Fashion Week.




Donatella Versace - Born in Reggio Calabria, Donatella graduated in foreign languages at the University of Florence. The partnership with brother Gianni began at that time, with her contributing to the supervision of the photographic campaigns so distinctive of the unique Versace Maison style.
As her involvement in the business grew, Donatella began with the design of accessories and, in 1993, moved on to create Versace Young, her children's line.
The following year she became head designer for Versus, the trendy Maison Versace brand.
Today Donatella is Vice President and Creative Director of the group and holds 20% of Gianni Versace S.p.A.

Kristian Aadnevik
This 29-year-old Norwegian designer completed his brilliant academic career, marked by prizes and recognition, at London's Royal College of Art. His working experiences include collaboration with Harrods International in London and Charles Jourdan in Japan.
His own label, created in 2004, is now enjoying its sixth collection.
Kristian's style is appreciated by Mette-Marit, The Crown Princess of Norway and artist Jamelia who has chosen to wear Aadnevik in her latest music videos.




Francisco Costa - Brazilian-born Francisco has a solid background in the fashion world. His parents were founders and owners of a well known clothing business and his sister is a stylist too. With an ambition to design for a top fashion house, he moved to New York in the 1990s to graduate at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After winning the Idea Como/Young Designers prize, he went on to work with Oscar de la Renta and Pierre Balmain. In 1998 Tom Ford summoned him to design evening wear and celebrity exclusive models. Today, Francisco Costa is the creative designer of Calvin Klein Womenswear Collection.

Julian Louie - Young Julian moved from Santa Cruz, California, to study architecture at New York's Cooper Union. Within two years fashion had him bewitched. It was love at first sight and Julian eagerly explored the relationships between architecture, fashion and painting. As a result, an amazing exhibition of his brilliant skills as a photographer, designer and artist was held. His concrete chance in fashion came in 2005 with an internship at Imitation of Christ. A whole month spent painting on yards and yards of silk chiffon for the Haute Couture Paris collection. Today, with a degree in architecture and a passion for painting, he is in Francisco Costa's staff of designers.




Paul Smith - Hailed as one of UK's most sought after designers, Paul entered the fashion industry almost by chance, enthralled by the enthusiasm of young students at Nottingham Royal College of Art.
His first step to accessing the colourful and exciting world of fashion was opening a small shop in 1970 and taking evening tailoring lessons.
With the support of his wife Pauline, Paul Smith has managed to put all aspects of his creativity, his unique talent in anticipating and stimulating new fashion trends to good use, thus becoming the most important British stylist.

Ioannis Cholidis - This young Greek designer with a degree from London St. Martin's School has a special flair for preppy menswear.
Achievements in his career include the sneaker line designed for Puma on show at London Fashion Week, and freelance cooperation with Stella McCartney, designing the clothes worn by British band Coldplay.




Franca Sozzani - Franca entered the press universe right after completing her BA at the Milan Cattolica University. In 1988 she became Editor-in-chief of the Italian edition of Vogue, Editor of Condè Nast Italia in 1994, and Editor of L'Uomo Vogue in 2006. She is also the author of several books about photography, fashion, art and design, as well as curator of relevant expositions and has a special interest for talent-scouting. Several important photographers, artists and designers attribute their success to her commitment to the promotion of young talent, an undertaking for which she has recently been acknowledged with an international award.

Sandra Backlund - Sandra is a young Swedish designer with a passion for knitwear. With a degree from Beckmans School of Design in 2004, Sandra has rapidly became known and appreciated for her amazing talent in handicraft. The human body is the starting point and, with the approach of a sculptor, Sandra constructs her work around the silhouette, arranging different shapes as in a 3-D puzzle. First prize winner of the Hyeres Festival International De Mode & De Photographie , Sandra has opened a tiny atelier in Stockholm where she spends day and night experimenting new shapes and volumes.




Since 2001 Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) has been leading the world in the innovation and marketing of Merino wool fibre. Established by the Australian wool industry, this not-for-profit organization invests around A $60million (approximately €35 million) a year supporting businesses and individuals working with Merino wool throughout the apparel pipeline.

AWI works to increase the global demand for Australian Merino developing relationships with key apparel decision makers and leading product developers, designers, manufacturers and retailers across the globe.

With the Head Office in Sydney and Regional Offices in New York, Treviso, Milan, UK, Shanghai, Hong Kong and New Delhi, AWI is a Merino wool global innovation network that provides fibre solutions to the most influential names in the world of apparel. The activities of AWI range from development of state-of-the-art yarns to the production of marketing materials aimed for retail sales.



Pitti & AWI

Sandra Backlund



AWI value proposition and service provided to business partners are based on knowledge, innovation and marketing support:
* Knowledge - access to a global knowledge network: from supply sourcing information to consumer insights, marketing intelligence and trend forecasting.
* Innovation - providing external research and development: AWI partners with major research laboratories and most prestigious universities of the world, constantly seeking new opportunities to use Merino wool yarns with innovative contents in the fashion sector and in the most extreme performances of active sports.
* Marketing support - AWI helps its partners transmit the added value represented by the Australian merino wool to their collections by using different communication tools, from brand development to collateral materials and materials aimed for retail sales outlets

AUSTRALIAN MERINO WOOL - Celebrating 200 Years
It was in 1807 that Reverend Samuel Marsden brought the first bale of Australian Merino wool to England for commercial sales. London wool buyers enthusiastically welcomed the Merino wool from Australia as "the softest and lightest wool they had ever seen" and rushed to place orders to manufacture sumptuous garments for British Royalty.

In 1870, Australia scored the record as number one producer of Merino wool. For Australian wool growers this marked the beginning of a golden era: some of them expanded their business so much that their flocks counted hundreds of thousands of sheep. In the 1900s, Italy became the largest processor of Australian Merino wool. The Biella area in the north-west of the country became the hub for such companies which then have grown into the well-known names that, to this very day, remain at the top of the world's textile industry. In 1920, by reinterpreting wool processing in an innovative way on a rodier piece of machinery that had until then been used exclusively to create men's underwear, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel breathed new life into the way women were dressed, with more practical and smooth clothes which were, nonetheless, highly feminine and chic: jersey was born, a true revolution in fashion.

Paris, the throbbing heart of fashion in those years, became the seat of an important contest - the International Wool Secretariat Competition - dedicated to young, non-professional designers whose challenge was to design wool clothes. The 1954 edition of the competition saw a young designer, Yves Mathieu Saint Laurent, winning third place and an extremely young Karl Lagerfeld netting the top prize. With their woollen creations, the two young designers made their début in the fashion world and their success over the next few years is history.

The link between Australian Merino wool and the best known designers was celebrated in 1988 during the Bicentennial Celebration of the Australian Nation in Sydney. Sonia Rykiel, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Kenzo, Missoni, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace and other world famous designers paid tribute to this noble fibre by designing outfits created using exclusively Australian Merino wool. Today, Australian Merino wool represents the apex of two million years' evolution and two hundred years dedicated to the development of the finest fibre in the textile industry. Australian Wool Innovation wishes to celebrate this anniversary through special initiatives at the international level that can pay tribute to Merino wool for its strong contributions to the development of fashion over the past two hundred years. With "The Protégé Project", AWI celebrated in Italy two centuries of Australian Merino wool.


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