Bianca Saunders Wins the ANDAM Prize in Paris

  • 4635

The Hotel Le Marois was the center of the action in Paris today, with the likes of Renzo Rosso, Natalie Massenet, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Phoebe Philo, and Vogue’s Chioma Nnadi gathered in person and via Zoom for the ANDAM Prize competition. Founded in 1989 by Nathalie Dufour, ANDAM has nurtured some of the biggest names in Paris fashion, from Martin Margiela to Anthony Vaccarello. For the first time this year, the competition was extended to internationally based designers, with Bianca Saunders, Casablanca, Area, Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Rokh, and Grace Wales Bonner competing for the Grand Prize.

The Londoner Bianca Saunders took home the top award of €300,000, which comes with a year’s worth of mentoring by Balenciaga CEO and President Cédric Charbit. “It was amazing meeting and presenting to people that I really admire,” she said. Not least of all Philo, who asked Saunders via Zoom what she would do with the prize money. “The main thing is showing in Paris, which has always been a dream of mine,” she answered, “then having a bit more of a global brand, expanding to the Asian market.”

The Pierre Bergé Prize went to Kévin Nompeix and Florentin Glémarec of Egon Lab, who came to the fashion world’s attention when they enlisted Glémarec’s grandparents as brand ambassadors at the fall 2020 menswear shows in Paris. The duo use innovative materials like CO2 absorbing trousers to better confront the crisis of climate change. “We want to bring together innovation with craft in hopes of establishing an atelier for made-to-measure tailoring,” they said. Sonia Ahminou, who makes leather goods under the name ASWAD, was awarded the €50,000 Accessories Prize. Her work will be supported by Swarovksi. “I really want to continue building out the history of French artisans and savoir-faire, to continue bringing forward the incredible leather goods craftsmen hiding behind major brands,” she commented. Spinnova, the tech and fashion team exploring alternative solutions like cotton waste and wood to create their fabrics, received the €50,000 Innovation Prize.

Sonia Ahminou, with models carrying her ASWAD bags. Photo: Francois Goizé / Courtesy of ANDAM

Francois Goize

Before the presentation, Pierre M’Pele (Instagram handle: @pamboy) said he was looking to see how the finalists “can use what has been going on from social injustice to sustainability to truly shape the way they see the future of fashion.” He added, “it’s important to understand how these designers will use a business-minded approach to truly grow on a brand level.” Juergen Teller and Dovile Drizyte also weighed in: “It’s such an exciting process to be part of; some have given such thought to sustainability and the environment and creativity truly helps the good work stand out.”

Balenciaga’s Charbit said, “we wanted to approach the candidates with as much openness as possible whatever their genre, origin, or the context. When it came to picking the winner, it was about charisma, success, and whether or not we thought the brand could go really far and in Bianca’s case this was the case.” Although Wales Bonner wasn’t awarded the Grand Prize, the London-based designer will also be offered a full year of mentoring from Charbit. Bonner said she would explore additional product categories, and work with artisans in France. “It’s always interesting for me to get broader insights, so I would invest in developing jewelry, footwear, and accessories.” Charbit added, “In the end, it was important to salute Grace’s accomplished talent in hopes of humbly contributing to the development of her brand.”

Dufour, for her part, said, “although the results were brilliant, I’m never completely satisfied, in that it would have been great to award one or two more prizes. No designer wants to make collections without being involved and reflecting political, social, and ethical development, and no designer wants to make clothes that will harm the planet. What is wonderful,” she continued about the finalists, “is that they truly represent the world of tomorrow.”

Egon Lab’s Kévin Nompeix and Florentin Glémarec, their models, and Glémarec’s brand ambassador grandparents. Photo: Francois Goizé / Courtesy of ANDAM

Francois Goize