There are many awards and honors bestowed upon emerging designers, but few hold the weight of the LVMH Prize. Now in its tenth year, the LVMH Prize for Young Designers has a track record of elevating a young brand to international recognition. On Friday, the nine finalists (chosen from 22 semifinalists and over 2,400 candidates) were announced. Hailing from all over the world, the nine brands represent a move toward sustainable and genderless fashion, as well as a recognition of the present—with a firm focus on the future.
“The semifinal of the tenth edition of this prize has highlighted a great maturity in the approach and work of the designers,” said Delphine Arnault, the executive vice president of LVMH and CEO of Dior. “Cultural diversity, celebration of traditional crafts and creative audacity define this selection. Naturally, the finalists are fully engaged in dealing with environmental issues and play with the boundaries between menswear and womenswear. Their expertise, their creativity, their uniqueness and their commitment have truly impressed me.”
This year’s panel of judges for the prize include designers like Marc Jacobs, Jonathan Anderson, and Stella McCartney, editors including Edward Enninful and Mel Ottenberg, and models—Bella Hadid and Karlie Kloss among them. On June 7th, the group will commune to choose the winner of the 2023 prize—joining the ranks of past honorees like S.S. Daley, Nensi Dojaka, and Marine Serre—and it seems like they have their work cut out for them. Get to know the nine finalists vying for the ultimate prize, below.
Designer: Aaron Esh
Location: United Kingdom
Many designers create collections as an ode to their city, but Aaron Esh’s BA collection at the London College of Fashion in 2020 was more like a piece of hate mail. Esh, who was living with five flatmates in London and dealing with the aftermath of Brexit and the pandemic as he created his collection, channeled his feelings into the clothes. Loafers detached at the soles, pants slung low, jackets were held together by pins—it was the visualization of London: a fabulous, unaffordable city. By the time he moved on to his MA at Central Saint Martins (a program for which he received the Alexander McQueen scholarship), though, he was ready to look at his native town through a kinder lens, designing a romantic collection of elegant menswear pieces with themes that are still present in his work today. While Esh mostly creates clothes for men, the female influence is obvious, allowing for a modern take on the centuries-old practice of fine tailoring.
Designer: Julie Pelipas
For years, Julie Pelipas attended fashion shows as a stylist and Vogue Ukraine’s international fashion director; many of her peers admired her impeccable, minimalist street style, often mistaking her sleek, oversize jackets and slouchy pants as Phoebe Philo-era Céline. In reality, they were all prototypes for Bettter. After a decade-and-a-half of working with others’ designs, Pelipas finally took to the sketchbook herself in 2019, creating a line of tailored pieces and chic sportswear for the modern woman. During a season in which “real dressing” has returned to the runway, Pelipas is wholly prepared; designing for real women seems to be the only way she knows how to create garments. Plus, Pelipas is dedicated to sourcing her materials from secondary markets, using deadstock fabric taken from factories. In the past year, Pelipas has brought new life to over 7,000 pieces of clothing that already existed, reissuing old jackets, sweaters, and even sneakers in Bettter’s collections.
Designer: Burc Akyol
Speciality: Womenswear, menswear, and genderless
Fans: Elizabeth Debicki and Kendall Jenner
Burc Akyol defines his brand as a mixture of sexy and austerity—and yes, he’s aware those are two conflicting adjectives. Looking at his clothes, however, the contrasting descriptors do both seem relevant, especially in a tailored jacket (no shirt worn underneath) paired with satin pants, or a gala-worthy dress whose neckline hangs low enough to allow for just the right amount of cleavage. Akyol—who spent years working in French maisons before launching his eponymous line in 2019—toes a line walked by so many designers: elegant but not stuffy, sexy but not ostentatious. Likely, you’ve already seen Akyol’s work before, on Kendall Jenner at last year’s LACMA Art + Film Gala. Her dress for the event—consisting of a sheer, long-sleeve top and a metallic, low-slung skirt—exemplifies Akyol’s ethos.
Designer: Rachel Scott
Fans: Gabrielle Union and Ari Lennox
The first LVMH finalist to hail from Jamaica, Rachel Scott uses Diotima to expand the definition of luxury beyond its Euro-centric confines. Jamaican influences are obvious in Diotima’s clothes, as Scott works with artisans in her home country to achieve the crochet technique she has become known for since starting her brand in 2021. Over the past few seasons, the designer has also explored more tailored pieces—cropped suit jackets in muted linen, pencil skirts with an added crochet frill down the side. Scott’s goal is to acknowledge the past without being too nostalgic in order to push Caribbean fashion forward, into the future.
Designer: Raul Lopez
Location: United States
Speciality: Womenswear, menswear, and genderless
Fans: Dua Lipa, Anok Yai, and Julia Fox
If you’re familiar with anyone’s work on this list, it’s likely Raul Lopez’s at Luar. The designer recently won the CFDA’s American Accessory Designer of the Year Award, and last month, his spring 2023 presentation closed out New York Fashion Week. Beginning with the extremely popular Ana bag, Lopez has expanded his label to include streetwear-adjacent, sophisticated, ready-to-wear pieces, at least partially inspired by his previous brand Hood By Air, which he cofounded with Shayne Oliver. Cutout sweaters add flair to traditional workwear, jean shirts are upgraded with comically padded shoulders, and Lopez’s “calle pero elegante” or “street but elegant” influence is clear in each piece he sends down the runway.
Designer: Luca Magliano
Fans: Dua Lipa
Founded in 2017, Luca Magliano’s namesake brand quickly made a mark on the Italian fashion scene with its grunge and vintage-inspired take on classic menswear. The basics were there—suits, trousers, sweaters—but they were rendered in offbeat colors, with superfluous pockets, and added styling elements that pushed Italian men’s design into a modern era. Clearly, the clothes have resonated with the public, as Magliano is currently carried at over 60 retailers globally. Plus, in December, Milanese holding company and fashion business accelerator Underscore District bought a minority stake in the brand, a deal that will aid Magliano as it enters its next stage of growth.
Designers: Paolina Russo and Lucile Guilmard
Locations: Canada (Russo) and France (Guilmard)
Fans: Solange Knowles, Rihanna, and NewJeans
Childhood pastimes in Ontario, Canada meet the folkloric French countryside at the knitwear-focused label Paolina Russo. Founded by Russo in 2020, the Canadian designer was joined by her fellow Central Saint Martins graduate, Lucile Guilmard, a year later. With Guilmard came a European sensibility along with new cutting techniques. The result is a line that can be described as: a video game heroine cozies up in her dad’s old Fair Isle sweater. Bright colors, clashing fabrics, and layering are hallmarks of Paolina Russo, and the brand’s clear stage presence is likely why their designs have become favored by artists across genres.
Designer: Veronica Leoni
Quira is a minimal luxury brand in the vein of Jil Sander and Phoebe Philo’s Céline, two labels Veronica Leoni spent time working at earlier in her career. Named after her seamstress grandmother, Quirina, Quira provides clothing for the stylish CEO and her art gallerist little sister. Tailored coats with tapered waists paired with sheer midi skirts stand next to bright red ruffled knit dresses. But that’s not to say there’s a disconnect between Leoni’s designs—the thread of playful elegance, bold styling, and modern womanhood runs throughout.
Designer: Satoshi Kuwata
The name of Satoshi Kuwata’s brand, Setchu, comes from the Japanese phrase “wayo setchu,” with “wayo” denoting Japan and the West and “setchu” meaning compromise. According to Kuwata, that says it all: Setchu represents the designer mergning his upbringing in Kyoto with his experiences working in London, Paris, New York, and Milan. Traditional Japanese techniques like origami inspire Kuwata’s designs, but his use of modern fabrics and styling allow for a combination of cultures. Models are (literally) wrapped in leather; cuffs fold up to reveal another one underneath. There’s a playfulness to Setchu that is contrasted by Kuwata’s impressive tailoring skills, and the result is something wholly original.