Gabriela Hearst has just won the International Woolmark Prize, one of the oldest and most prestigious fashion prizes, but she still doesn’t feel like she’s made it.
“I always think I am in the first steps…I think it is still a long road,” the designer told ELLE.com immediately following her win at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo. “I’ve been around for so long, 12 years, and the best advice someone ever told me was that you’re going to make it one day but don’t believe the hype.”
Still, Hearst must take some heart in the high praise the jury had for her work. “I was very much in support of Gabriela,” Victoria Beckham, one of 17 judges who evaluated the finalists, said. “For me, she is the worthy winner. I love what she does and she’s clearly very talented. I like her eye, she has great product and she’s a strong woman. I have a huge amount of respect for her. I’m proud and honored to get involved in this and help make this possible for her.” Added British Fashion Council Chair Dame Natalie Massenet DBE, “We picked Gabriela because we thought she struck a chord on every level: a passion for wool, its history, and the varied uses of wool…She did a very good job of showing high-low, from evening gowns through to trench coats and pant suits and we feel that she will have an enormous future.”
To be considered for the Woolmark Prize, entrants must submit designs showcasing the versatility of Woolmark’s merino wool. This year more than 75 designers from more than 60 countries were nominated for the Prize. Hearst’s collection of ultra-thin lightweight wool separates (an off the shoulder trench dress over a paper-thin navy turtleneck was a standout) won over fellow finalists Toton (Indonesia), macgraw (Australia), Fuastine Steinmetz (UK), Nachiket Barve (India), and Tim Labenda (Germany).
If Hearst’s ego isn’t bolstered by the win, her resolve to continue to create, and to be political, has. “My heart has been broken since November 9th,” Hearst said. “So this [win] gives me hope and the Women’s March gave me hope. I think right now we all have to be political because we have to stand for something bigger.” She continued, “Women, we bring another perspective to this table, we have compassion, and we need to be listened to. The best thing that happened to us from this dark moment is that we got together.”