Nensi Dojaka wins the 2021 LVMH Prize

·4-min read
 (Nensi Dojaka)
(Nensi Dojaka)

A jury consisting of Virgil Abloh, Stella McCartney, Kim Jones and Marc Jacobs have picked their winners.

In a ceremony that unfolded today at LVMH’s Louis Vuitton Foundation, the London-based Albanian designer Nensi Dojaka, known for her delicately structured sheer garments, took home the grand prize and €300,000.

The runner-up Karl Lagerfeld Prize, which comes with a total €150,000, was split between three other finalists: Rui Zhou, the Chinese designer celebrated for her stretched knit garments held together with strings of pearls; Lukhanyo Mdingi, a South African designer currently based in Cape Town, who combines woven textures with bright colour and more subdued tailoring; and Colm Dillane of the New York based KIDSUPER, who has made a splash with doodle prints and a lockdown fashion collection shown on dolls (complete with a doll versions of the Queen and Anna Wintour on the FROW, and Stephan Hawking as a top model).

Dojaka, who will be presenting her latest SS22 collection during London Fashion Week on Friday 17th September, is a graduate of both London College of Fashion where she studied her Bachelors, and Central Saint Martins, where she graduated in 2019 with a Masters in Fashion Design. Afterwards, she continued through London’s structures of support for emerging designers, and was picked up by talent incubator Fashion East, which was founded by Lulu Kennedy.

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During her time at Fashion East, which provides mentoring and a group show for its members during Fashion Week, it was Bella Hadid who launched her into the spotlight. The model wore one of her micro-panelled, see-through tops to attend the 2020 VMA Awards, which solidified the Dojaka as a leader in the return of a sexiness synonymous with 90s style. Accepting the award, which was handed by YouTube personality Emma Chamberlin, Dojaka was overcome with emotion.

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The LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers was founded in 2013 and aims to support rising creatives post-graduation, or in the early stages of launching fashion brands. Its set of successful alumni are testament to the power it has to propel new labels. Past winners have included Marine Serre, who won in 2017 and has since boomed with her recognisable half-moon print morph suits and second-skin tops, and British Jamaican menswear designer Grace Wales Bonner, who returned triumphant the year before.

In 2015 the French designer Jacquemus secured the Jury’s special prize, with design duo Marques ‘ Almeida taking first place. The former, however, has found great success in an Instagram age of fashion promotion, with his vast straw hats, micro handbags, and striking runway shows in fields of lavender or wheat.

Antoine Arnault, Delphine Arnault, Karl Lagerfeld, Bernard Arnault and Alexandre Arnault attend the LVMH Prize 2018 Edition. (Getty Images)
Antoine Arnault, Delphine Arnault, Karl Lagerfeld, Bernard Arnault and Alexandre Arnault attend the LVMH Prize 2018 Edition. (Getty Images)

Last year’s LVMH competition faced disruptions in the face of the pandemic, which eventually ended in the finals cancellation. All eight finalists – Peter Do, Priya Ahluwalia, Casablanca’s Charaf Tajer, Nicholas Daley, Sindiso Khumalo, Tomo Koizumi, Supriya Lele, and Chopova Lowena – took home a cut of €300,000 prize money.

The nine finalists this year stood out against an initial 1,900 applicants. 20 semi-finalists were later selected, before being whittled down to the final by 66 industry experts and, for the first time in the prize’s history, 32,000 public votes.

Meet the five finalists pipped to the post below:

Bianca Saunders

The British designer graduated from London’s Royal College Of Art in 2017, before making her debut at London Fashion Week Men’s in June 2018, and is recognisable her minimal garments with a soft edge for men.

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Christopher John Rogers

The American designer was the recipient of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and $400,000 prize money in 2019, and made headlines dressing Kamala Harris for the Inauguration in January this year.

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Charles De Vilmorin

Based in Paris, and debuting his first couture collection at 24 years old in July this year, the French designer juggles his own line with his new role as Creative Director at the storied house of Rochas.

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Conner Ives

The Central Saint Martins graduate left college in 2020 having dressed Adwoa Aboah for the Met Gala in 2017, and working alongside Rihanna during the launch her fashion brand Fenty.

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Kika Vargas

The Colombian designer based in Bogotá studied fashion at Marangoni in Milan and worked at Missoni before launching her eponymous brand recognisable for its flounces and romantic edge.

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