ITS 2018: Eleanor McDonald, Tolu Coker win three fashion awards each in Trieste
The 16th edition of the ITS (International Talent Support) emerging designer competition was of a high calibre indeed, with 30 finalists from 17 countries. The competition was created in 2002 by Barbara Franchin, and the final was held in Trieste, Italy, on Wednesday June 27. It introduced a new, snappier format, showcasing top-notch design quality and interesting research on materials and techniques.
Sustainability and identity were two of the most popular themes, as was architecture, another element which inspired several collections. Above all, the ITS jury decided to recognise expertise and talent (especially that of the students from London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins school, which bagged all the prizes), and gave the ITS Award, sponsored by Allianz and endowed with €5,000, to London-born designer Eleanor McDonald.
McDonald also won the prize presented by the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI, the Italian Fashion Chamber), worth €15,000, and the Tomorrow award, which will allow McDonald to show her collection at the Tomorrow Paris Showroom. In her ideal men’s wardrobe, the young British designer featured a series of impeccably tailored black suits in wool twill with innovative, highly contemporary proportions, with a hint of sensuality verging on the feminine.
All of the items are worn with cute little blue sweaters and are interchangeable. The high-waisted trousers are flared, the jackets, cut from one single piece of fabric, follow the contours of the back naturally, like some Balenciaga models. Details and finishings are painstakingly curated, from the positioning of the pockets to the garment’s proportions and their inner linings.
“For me, fashion is something functional. This is what sets it apart from art. It must be stunning, but wearable. I love the details and the construction, and especially the way in which clothes are affected by movement. They must let the person who wears them feel totally free,” said McDonald, who is especially keen on “timeless clothes that are always contemporary, like those by Jil Sander.”
As a young girl, McDonald grew fond of fabrics observing her mother, who used to make patchwork quilts. After graduating from the Central Saint Martins School, she did an internship at Burberry.
The other star of the ITS competition this year was undoubtedly Tolu Coker. She won the Diesel prize, which offered a paid internship at the denim label, and the ITS Time For Coffee Award, sponsored by Swatch and Italian coffee brand Illy Caffé, with the chance of a residency at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai. Coker also won the Vogue Talents Special Mention.
Tolu Coker, 24, was born in London, where she grew up with her Nigerian parents. She too is a graduate of the Central Saint Martins School. She presented a collection themed around the issue of BME identity, producing a documentary film and creating a mood more than a wardrobe, with highly elaborate clothes, lavishly decorated with embroidery, patches and different textures. The end result was an array of arresting looks, at once hip and exuberant, with a funky Harlem vibe.
“Everything is made using stocks of recycled, handmade fabrics. The clothes are representative of what people really are, even as a way of showing what they hide. I make fashion because I want to start an important conversation with people. And all of the stages in the process are fascinating for me,” said Coker.
Also worth mentioning was the interesting work by Emma Chopova, 26, who was born in Bulgaria and came to New Jersey, in the USA, at the age of 7, and London-born Laura Lowena, 27. They met at the Central Saint Martins School, where they studied together. They won the OTB Prize, worth €10,000, plus the opportunity of an internship at one of the brands owned by Renzo Rosso’s fashion group.
Their collection blends Bulgarian folk outfits with the world of climbing apparel: traditional pleated fabrics hang suspended from rings held by a belt around the models’ waist, worn over sporty, brightly coloured leggings. “We are very complementary. I draw, and I love colours and dresses most of all, while Laura works on more elaborate items, on jackets and collage,” said Emma Chopova.
Finally, another special prize worth €10,000 was awarded by OTB to high-spirited Chinese designer Tingting Zhang, 26, educated at the Central Saint Martins School and the Royal College of London, who presented an original collection of hats made with stretch materials that look sculpted, thanks to 3D printing technology.
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