Saying that ITS was born from the idea that together we are strong isn’t farfetched. At all. We strived from the very beginning towards building a solid, long-lasting network of people supporting each other, just as a family would. That’s precisely the reason why we love the definition “ITS Family” when we look at our finalists, our friends and everyone who stays in touch with us and supports us. We commonly say that it would have been easy to build the ITS contests, deliver the prizes and just stop there. But where’s the heart and why use such a symbol if there isn’t something more to it. We support our finalists throughout their careers as much as we can, hoping they support each other as well. It isn’t just a hope, by the way. We know they do.
Therefore, it’s natural for us to write this article telling you what the ITS 2015 winners are up to, since it’s natural for ITS to drop a line every now and then to every finalist out there asking what they are doing, where are they working... basically, what’s up with their lives. Families might have ups and downs, relatives might not stay in touch that much, sometimes some even disappear. But this doesn’t change the fact they are families. Therefore, let’s see what is happening in the lives of the winners of the 2015 awards.
Elina Määttänen was the winner of the Vogue Talents Award which led to the publication of a photoshoot on the Vogue Talents website including a feature in the September 2015 printed version of Vogue Talents. The visibility provided by ITS had the Maison Margiela team spot her talent and offer her a position in the team, which she entered as a Junior Designer immediately after ITS, in the end of July 2015. She went a step forward this year and is now Designer for the studio.
The wonderfully feminine and romantic knitwear by Yuko Koike, innovative in its inclusion of perspex elements blended inside her knitwear pieces, could not but capture the attention of knitwear queen Deanna Ferretti and her daughter, Head of Modateca Deanna Sonia Veroni, who awarded her with the Modateca Deanna Award allowing her the possibility to visit the huge knitwear archive of Modateca. But Yuko’s talent impressed OTB President Renzo Rosso as well, who assigned her the OTB Award: a 6-month internship which then evolved in an amazing opportunity for Yuko, the production & sale of a capsule collection to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Diesel Japan of which we extensively wrote in this feature.
We weren’t surprised, at all, when a tech company like Samsung decided to award the Samsung Galaxy Award for the most interesting & futuristic casing prototype for the GS6 and GS6 Edge smartphones to finalist Yang Wang. Yang reminds us of another impressive talent we had the privilege to discover, Yuima Nakazato. He has the same drive to imagine and develop outstanding prototypes of a not too distant future using state-of-the-art technologies. Yang rightly defines himself as a fashion artist and hasn’t stopped developing the concept he presented at ITS. Lately, he has also presented a collection of pieces in collaboration with vehicle designer Hugh Zhang for Audi at Beijing Design Week: outstanding futuristic pieces using temperature sensitive materials and wood.
Royal College of Art graduate Yunsun Yang won the Swarovski Award in 2015 with her “Halo” collection. Fundamentally based on social alienation, she imagined a society where we are disconnected from the outer world as if surrounded by an imaginary spacesuit creating a halo space around us, blocking us from interaction. Outlining this space resulted in her jewelry pieces, which adapted beautifully to housing Swarovski crystals too, creating some of the most innovative contemporary jewelry we had seen to date. Following ITS Yunsun had the opportunity, thanks also to the pocket money of the award, to establish her own jewelry brand YunsunYangStudio presented at Maison&Objet Fair in Paris last September.
The ITS JEWELRY Award in 2015 saw the jury go for an ex-aequo decision, assigning it to both Kota Okuda and Vann Kwok. Vann addressed the relationship between what occurs naturally and what is technically produced in her collection, this strongly pushed her work in a pure artistic direction appearing to be inspired by artists like Mirò and Salvador Dalì too. Kota instead had the jury over with his mix of Scottish independence and Native American Indian iconography exploring the balance between these apparently contrasting cultures. Vann was a returning finalist this year, invited to present a new collection out of competition, whereas Kota went on to develop jewelry pieces for designer Ryohei Kawanishi and is currently living in New York studying at the MFA Fashion and Society at Parsons School for Design.
Hogeschool Antwerpen graduate Alexis Gautier stunned the ITS ARTWORK Jury with the depth of his artistic presentation and indeed with his storytelling abilities as well. It granted him a special award created precisely for him on the spot during ITS 2015, the Art Peace Hotel Award, allowing a 6-month residency at Swatch’s Art Peace hotel, in Shanghai including an opportunity to collaborate with celebrated designer Uma Wang. The residency allowed Alexis 6 months of research and experiments in China, developing further the project he presented at ITS which should lead to a new exhibition in late 2017. Currently he is in Indonesia on a 3-month research for a new project for Belgium’s Contemporary Art biennale “Europalia”.
Staying in the Artwork field, Shay Tako convinced everyone, starting from the whole jury to the last guest who attended ITS, with his installation, a set of masks describing different cultural identities from around the world inviting the guests to wear them on and reflect on stereotypes, on how a simple mask can flip things around and make us appear like something else while at the core we are all exactly the same and simply human. Swatch loved this concept and chose Shay as the winner of the Swatch Award allowing for a professional collaboration. It worked out so successfully that Shay is now employed permanently in Swatch as a designer.
Japanese accessories finalist Hiroki Kataoka got selected with his profoundly personal footwear collection inspired by his childhood, not being able to dive in the ocean because of an eczema, turning the ocean in a representation of a place you yearn to go to but cannot. His artistic approach got him selected for ITS ARTWORK too, and Hiroki came up with an impressive mechanically activated heart installation, very colourful and graphic, appearing to have popped out of a cartoon while at the same time communicating a strong and touching message. Back in Japan, Hiroki has now established his visionary footwear brand (his website will soon include an online store...) and has also collaborated with ITS past finalists like Yuima Nakazato and Mikio Sakabe on their fashion collection footwear, as well as with Japanese fashion brand Balmung.
Turning to the jewelry contest, we were thrilled to see YKK recognise Bianca Chong’s impressive talent with the YKK Fastening Award which included a feature in Dazed as well as several opportunities at the YKK London Showroom. This year we decided to challenge Bianca with the ITS Made in FVG project and challenged her to conceive futuristic jewelry capable of measuring data like time, vital signs and more from the wearer’s surroundings, basically an artistic speculation on the idea of wearable technology. The pieces Bianca produced were, put simply, extraordinary. We can’t wait to see what she will be coming up with next, since she is getting ready to present a new collection in March 2017.
Isabel Helf won the ITS ACCESSORIES Award which included a return to ITS to present a new collection out of competition. She had won in 2015 with a stunning bag collection inspired by people obsessed with order and organizing everything in the neatest possible way, and in 2016 she went further in the exploration of the concept but at the same time she evolved it including a new idea: creating a framework around the bag to highlight it as an object, inspired by Max Wertheimer’s Gestalt psychology. She not only presented it at ITS of course, but she also went on to showcase it during Paris Fashion Week last September. She is establishing her own brand and we look forward to witnessing the evolution of her career.
Jenifer Burdet’s story is really one of those we’ll never forget. When we called her over the phone in the end of April 2015 to let her know she had been selected for ITS FASHION her reply was “oh my god! I am giving birth in a couple of days!” leaving us speechless while we would have expected the opposite. The challenge she underwent in accepting the selection in such a profoundly life-changing moment was incredible. It has marked a relationship which lives strong and we follow the growth of her beautiful daughter with the same interest as the development of her brand DYL - Define your Life, focused on an entirely new way of creating, perceiving and buying clothes for men (click on her name to explore her brand philosophy and latest collection).
We’re leaving the last update for the winner of Fashion Collection of the Year, Royal College of Art graduate Paula Knorr. Her exploration of womanhood led to an aesthetic that appears to freeze time, at the same time providing movement and fluidity on the body, communicating strength and power. Such an innovative aesthetic (her first collection really appeared as if pieces of fabric had been blown on the body by a strong wind) caught the eye of the Jury as well as of the international press and Paula is receiving great reviews with her eponymous brand. She recently presented her 2nd collection “Collage of Herself” which continues in her research of womanhood and has been presented in London Fashion Week. Her work caught the eye of artist Bjork, who has worn her collections more than once during concerts and happenings, and is also supported by our beloved Barbara Grispini, Head of D_Ark Concept Showroom.
The 2015 generation is definitely demonstrating its talent. What’s most important for us, in this ever-changing world where survival appears to be more and more focused on the present, is that they’re doing what they are amazing at with as little compromise as possible. Not seeing their outstanding abilities providing them with a future would be, honestly, a tragedy. But there’s still room for who has talent, there will always be.