SS Daley wins the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers
Fashion’s most prestigious award for young designers was presented on Thursday to Steven Stokey-Daley, whose vintage-inspired label, SS Daley, riffs on the uniforms of Britain’s upper class.
“It’s like an Oscar,” Mr Stokey-Daley said as he received the LVMH award from Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett at a ceremony at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.
Mr. Stokey-Daley, 25, will receive 300,000 euros (currently about $322,000) and a year of mentorship from LVMH to help support a business that started just two years ago. But those two years have been fruitful: Among SS Daley fans is Harry Styles, who wore the designer’s pieces in his “GoldenMusic video. The looks included a puffy white shirt and a pair of oversized floral pants upcycled from vintage curtains.
Mr Stokey-Daley, who splits his time between Liverpool and London, made the pieces as part of his ‘Brideshead Revisited’ graduate collection at the University of Westminster in 2020. On Thursday he publicly thanked the stylist of pop star, Harry Lambert, saying he “really didn’t expect to win”.
“I know everyone says these things, and it sounds like a script, but it was really a shocker,” Stokey-Daley said later Thursday in an interview with The New York Times, describing his work as having “taken the idea of British heritage, which feels quite old-fashioned and stuffy, and offered it a fresh new perspective” – a more sensual and androgynous one. While the brand initially focused on menswear , she will start selling women’s clothing later this year on Matches Fashion.
Mr Stokey-Daley, who said he started the business from his bedroom during lockdown, will invest his prize money in building his own direct-to-consumer e-commerce channel. He also plans to start developing accessories and continue recycling with unused materials.
Delphine Arnault, executive vice-president of Louis Vuitton and a force behind the LVMH award, praised Mr. Stokey-Daley in particular for his easy-to-wear knitwear and “very clear style”, as well as his “great personality” – a important aspect of the competition, she said, which entered its ninth year with 1,900 applicants and ended with eight finalists.
The jury included several creative directors from the LVMH Fashion Group stable, including Stella McCartney, Jonathan Anderson of Loewe, Nicolas Ghesquière of Louis Vuitton, Maria Grazia Chiuri of Dior and Kim Jones of Fendi and Dior.
“It’s very emotional and it’s a little stressful,” Ms Arnault said of the judging process. “They are in front of all these artistic creators that they have admired since they were children.”
Award runner-up Eli Russell Linnetz compared the experience to being on “American Idol,” except the judging panel is a “pantheon of Greek gods.”
On Thursday, Mr Linnetz’s playful and super Californian brand ERL was named the winner of the Karl Lagerfeld Award, alongside Winnie New York, a brand designed by Idris Balogun, a Nigerian-born designer who trained in adolescence in the tailors of Savile Row. in London.
The two creators (moreover the only labels among the eight finalists based in the United States) will each receive 150,000 euros and one year of mentorship.
While Mr Linnetz may have the biggest profile of all the finalists – he just hosted his first show as a guest designer for Dior Men – Mr Balogun identified himself as having one of the smallest profiles and platforms, of which he became a protector.
“Being someone who’s not out there – you know, I don’t meet everyone, I don’t talk to everyone – it’s really interesting for me to see the industry gravitating around the brand and think the brand is worth it,” said Balogun, who also plans to use his earnings to launch direct-to-consumer sales.
Linnetz said he plans to beef up his design team, to “help share the vision” and feel less “constrained by the hours of the day”, and hire a chief financial officer.
Ms. Arnault stressed that all is not lost for the finalists who were not honored with the top prizes. She pointed to Demna (Balenciaga’s mononymous designer) and the late designer Virgil Abloh, both finalists in 2015 who didn’t win the award but whose work has since reshaped the industry.
“Fashion isn’t just about running fast at a time,” Ms. Arnault said. “You have to be persistent and really want to do this all your life.”