Menswear Triumphs at the 2018 ITS Festival

Menswear Triumphs at the 2018 ITS Festival

The 2018 design prize winners are reshaping the power of menswear.

The 2018 design prize winners are reshaping the power of menswear.

Styling: Stéphane Gaboué

No less than 8 prizes awaited the 11 finalists at the International Talent Support contest, an annual fashion competition staged in the splendiferous Italian coastal city of Trieste that counts Vêtements' Demna Gvasalia among its past winners.

But this year, six of the coveted trophies were snatched up by two British contestants, Tolu Coker and Eleanor McDonald, who both happen to be Central Saint Martin's graduates. So laden was Coker with hers that during her ecstatic acceptance speech, Renzo Rosso,the CEO of Diesel, one of the event's main sponsors, helped her unload.

Coker and McDonald were the night's outright winners. And interestingly, their symmetrical triumphs, (3 prizes for each) somewhat summarize the current fashion dilemma of streetwear vs tailoring. Since both design menswear (Coker's clothes are aimed at both sexes), their sweeping victories also reinforce a widely shared feeling that men's fashion is currently much more exciting than women's.

Eleanor McDonald, 27, took home the biggest prize, the Its award, which comes with a 15000 euro check, a 12-month mentorship, and an opportunity to show during the next Pitti Uomo salon in January. Her all-black suits had a whiff of the seventies, with taut jackets flaring below the waist, a shaped replicated in the pants. They were given a sexy, modern streak when worn over cropped tops that revealed the models' chiseled torsos.

If her lineup looked like a plea for the survival of sartorial fashion, in reality, her approach is much more pragmatic. "The message of this collection, like with all my work, is that fashion is fundamentally about the garments themselves. How something feels to wear, and how it functions for the wearer is of the utmost importance to me », she said, before adding : « There is no abstract concept in what I do". She also won the Tomorrow and Camera Della Moda awards.

The 24-year-old Tolu Coker was crowned with the Diesel, Vogue Talent, and Its time for Coffe awards, and one left the show venue with the feeling that she was the night's big revelation–although she is already known to some heavyweights. Indeed, her truly original work–Black Panther-inspired gear, with unisex jumpsuits, jackets and denim pants adorned with patchwork and distressed effects and printed with effigies of black figures and protest messages, accessorized with tilted hats and even a customized boombox–has already caught the attention of such stars as Rihanna and Solange Knowles. Cutting-edge magazines are raving about her. She was also a finalist in the ASOS fashion discovery contest, which led to her email being inundated with orders, and messages from stockists willing to sell her garments. Her resume includes internships at Loewe and Celine, and she was also part of the tiny Artisanal collection team at Maison Margiela.

Born and raised in Great Britain, Coker credits her Nigerian parents for shaping her fashion vision, "I get the art of storytelling from them," she revealed. Started out as a documentary she filmed in Paris and London following people's lives, and named Replica, the collection she presented was a statement about the complexity of identity. "I really wanted to give the concept of ‘Blackness’ a platform, in order to deconstruct it, unlearn it and its social stigmas, and allow the world to see the black heritage people as much more than their skin colour, but as unique, gifted, empowered and valuable individuals," she said.

Both McDonald and Coker are now focusing on developing their fledgling but promising companies, also they're open to the idea of collaborating with big brands.

The other winners included Sini Pilvi Kiilunen, who won the Swatch Award, and Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena+Tingting Zhang, who shared the OTB award.

Founded in 2002 by Barbara Franchin, the Its contest was back this year after a one-year hiatus to redefine the event and strike deals with new partners. With this new fine delivery of fresh talent, Its has proved that it was devon back with a vengeance.

Credits: IMAGES COURTESY OF ITS

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