“Art has no walls or boundaries. It should be defended with courage and confidence. That is what we are celebrating today,” was the opening speech by Rihanna, guest of honor at the LVMH Prize 2017 edition held last Friday at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne.

On a very sunny day, members of the jury, a panel of experts, former winners and invited guests gathered in the Foundations’s auditorium transformed into an installation with the collections of the eight Prize finalists.

LVMH has no problem to pull in the big names so having Rihanna – who also stars in Dior ads – announce the winner added another layer of importance to the Prize. And it went to French designer Marine Serre whose namesake brand will receive a Euro 300,000 grant and a year-long mentorship program from the LVMH group.

(Video courtesy of LVMH Prize)

In a moment when France adores its new President Emmanuel Macron and the French capital gets ready to host the latest menswear and Haute Couture collections, jury member Karl Lagerfeld perfectly summed up the moment: “Speaking as a foreigner, I am delighted the winner is French. It is the right moment: Vive la France !”

A chic French designer

Additionally, in recognition of the exceptional amount of talent present in this year’s competition, the jury awarded a special prize to Kozaburo Akasaka of Kozaburo. He wins a Euro 150,000 grant and also a year-long mentorship program from the LVMH group.

 

Proud winner

“The jury was impressed by Marine Serre’s work, which cleverly combines urban, sportswear and oriental inspirations, creating a unique aesthetic through these confrontations. We have also awarded Kozaburo Akasaka of Kozaburo a special prize. The Japanese designer distinguished himself with his delicately deconstructed menswear,” declared Delphine Arnault the driving force behind the competition.

Achtung Digital caught up with the two winners. “I feel like a sponge. I see connections in the world. What inspires me is everyday, the people. It is very instinctive,” explains Marine Serre her creative process. Does she have a muse? She would like to dress M.I.A. but also Rihanna. “They are the type of women I like to dress, not too posh.”

 

Marine Serre’s crescent moon

Marine’s next goal is to have a new atelier in Paris from where she can properly build her brand. She wants to have a solid structure to be able to remunerate all the people who have worked for free for her the last months. She already has orders for nearly a 1000 pieces for September to be sold at Dover Street Market, Opening Ceremony, Nordstrom and a small retailer in China.

Kozaburo Akasaka was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. He studied in London at Central Saint Martins to continue his training in New York with Thom Browne as a menswear designer. He received a full scholarship by the U.S.-Japan Council to undergo a Postgraduate Degree at Parsons, to then officially start his own menswear line. “Now I am here, almost living in a dream!” he concludes.

A lucky charm gift from Kozaburo’s Ukrainian wife

Having grown up in the 90’s, Kozaburo’s aesthetic is heavily inspired by music subcultures and various street styles he was exposed to during that period.

Kozaburo dressed in his own creations showing us one of his characteristic design elements: the wide-high-waist pants

From the other finalists, Achtung Digital would like to single out the following:

Jahnkoy by Siberia born Maria Kazakova, a New York based visual artist whose work starts on the examination of consumer habits with an emphasis on crafts and materials and a focus on the preservation of tradition through sustainability. Jahnkoy’s menswear taps into the roots of cultures across the globe and emphasizes the multi-cultural environment we live in today. She has predilection for recycling and repurposing.

(left) Artisanal and modern fusion in a conscious way; (right) Ethnic Pumas

Nabil El-Nayal, the designer behind British womenswear brand Nabil Nayal, who was born in Syria and moved to England at the age of 14. Nabil’s obsession with Elizabethan craftsmanship has deeply informed his practice; seen through his use of pleats, dramatic construction and powerful silhouettes. Nabil is also conducting extensive research into ways in which these techniques can be applied using the latest technologies. He was the first fashion designer in the world to use 3D printing in June 2010 and is currently undertaking a research doctorate in how 3D scanning can become integral to the design process.

Old silhouettes and new technics meet at Nabil Nayal

Finally, Ambush by Yoon Ahn, a Korean-American designer based in Tokyo creating experimental jewelry and apparel collections shown in Paris. Yoon has made collaborations with Louis Vuitton’s Kim Jones, Sacai and Undercover. Yoon opened the brand’s first store, the Ambush Workshop in Tokyo last year.

With a bag like this who needs jewelry!

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