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LVMH awards SA's Lukhanyo Mdingi coveted Karl Lagerfeld Prize

South African fashion designer Lukhanyo Mdingi scooped the Karl Lagerfeld Prize during the final of the eighth edition of the global LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.
Karl Lagerfeld Prize winners Colm Dillane, Rui Zhou and Lukhanyo Mdingi. Source: Supplied
Karl Lagerfeld Prize winners Colm Dillane, Rui Zhou and Lukhanyo Mdingi. Source: Supplied

This is the third year in a row that a South African creative has been recognised in the respected design competition. Sindiso Khumalo was a finalist in the 2020 edition and Thebe Magugu won the overall LVMH Prize in 2019 – the first African to have done so.

LVMH Prize and Karl Lagerfeld Prize recipients

LVMH Prize winner Nensi Dojaka. Source: Supplied
LVMH Prize winner Nensi Dojaka. Source: Supplied

The global competition was launched by luxury fashion conglomerate LVMH in 2013 to support and honour young design talent.

The latest awards announcement took place on Tuesday at the Louis Vuitton Foundation, in the presence of six artistic directors from the LVMH Group: Virgil Abloh, Jonathan Anderson, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Marc Jacobs, Kim Jones and Stella McCartney, alongside Delphine Arnault, Jean-Paul Claverie and Sidney Toledano.

Among the nine finalists, the jury awarded the overall LVMH Prize to Nensi Dojaka, 27, an Albanian womenswear designer based in London. She will receive a €300,000 endowment and will be mentored for one year by a team of LVMH experts.

Given the exceptional talent of the finalists this year, the jury decided to award the Karl Lagerfeld Prize to three designers instead of one. They each receive €150,000 and will enjoy a one-year mentorship.

The recipients include SA's Lukhanyo Mdingi, 29, who is based in Cape Town and focuses on womenswear and menswear; Colm Dillane, 29, the American founder of the womenswear and menswear KidSuper label based in Brooklyn; and Rui Zhou, 26, the Shanghai-based Chinese designer behind the brand Rui which specialises in genderless fashion.

In an Instagram post, Mdingi dedicated the award to his friend Nicholas Coutts, the talented South African fashion designer who passed away in 2019.

Delphine Arnault, director and executive vice president of LVMH, states: “I am very happy that the 2021 LVMH Prize has been awarded to Nensi Dojaka. Her sensual and tailored fashion breaks with the conventions of womenswear, combining confidence and style. Given the incredible talent of the finalists, the jury decided to award the Karl Lagerfeld Prize to three designers: Colm Dillane for KidSuper, Lukhanyo Mdingi and Rui Zhou for Rui. All three have sharp and unique visions of today’s fashion.

The eighth edition is evidence of the international scope and appeal of the LVMH Prize: hailing from over 100 countries, nearly 2,000 candidates applied this year. I am especially grateful to the nine finalists for their valuable presence despite the exceptional circumstances. I applaud their outstanding talent and creativity. I am delighted that the LVMH Prize has placed the spotlight on their work and will help them develop their brand.”

Moreover, three young fashion school graduates were distinguished: Adam Kost, a graduate of Institut Français de la Mode (Paris), Franziska Simon, a graduate of Heinrich-Heine Universität (Düsseldorf) and Eric Starc, a graduate of Università Iuav di Venezia (Venice). Each will receive €10,000 and join the studios of three Houses of the LVMH Group for one year, respectively Louis Vuitton menswear, Dior menswear and Dior womenswear.

The ninth edition of the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers will take place in 2022.

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