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The LVMH prize announces its 2021 semi-finalists

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London’s Bianca Saunders and Saul Nash are in the running to bag the coveted fashion award, alongside Christopher John Rogers, Nensi Dojaka, Conner Ives, and more

The many levels of economic uncertainty, market shutdowns, and logistical nightmares that COVID-19 has wreaked on fashion means it’s never been harder for young designers to get a foothold on the industry ladder than in is right now. Yet despite the events of the past year (or perhaps in spite of them), a total of 1,900 designers have applied to get their hands on the 2021 LVMH Prize since entries opened this January.

Now, the award’s €300,000 fund and prestigious year-long mentorship is within touching distance for 20 of these nascent talents, as this year’s semi-finalists have just been announced.

Spanning South Korea to Lebanon, and Columbia to the United States, nominees include the likes of red carpet favourite Christopher John Rogers and the less well-known but no less worthy Lagos Space Programme. Meanwhile, a fifth of the finalists are based in the United Kingdom – the largest number of any one country. Among them, there’s Bianca Saunders, Saul Nash, Conner Ives, and Nensi Dojaka, whose distinctive, forward looking visions have made them must-sees on the Fashion Week circuit. 

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In an LVMH first, though, it’s not just the panel who gets a say in who takes home a prize. Collections will be displayed in a virtual showroom from April 6 – 11 and visitors will be able to vote on their favourites. Previous winners include Marine Serre, Jacquemus, and Wales Bonner, although a nomination alone can stand a designer in good stead. After all, Virgil Abloh was only a finalist in 2015, and has since gone on to head up one of the most illustrious fashion houses around. 

On describing what makes this year’s batch of nominees so special, founder of the LVMH prize Delphine Arnauld says “all the semi-finalists show a sincere and deep commitment, whether it be social, ethical, artisanal, environmental, or local. They are anchored in today’s world”. In 2020, the LVMH prize was split between its finalists eight ways – selecting this year’s winners will surely present no less of a challenge. 

Watch Bianca Saunders’ AW21 show in the film below, and revisit Nensi Dojaka’s latest collection in the gallery above.