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LVMH Prize 2021: Meet The Finalists

After sifting through thousands of talented applicants and receiving 32,000 votes from the public, LVMH has finally shortlisted its finalists for the 2021 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers. Here is a rundown of the nine designers competing for the €300,000 cash prize.

Bianca Saunders

Photo: Jermaine Francis

Bianca Saunders is a London-based menswear designer who graduated from Royal College of Artin with a Masters of Arts degree in 2017. Her self-titled menswear brand explores surrounding identities, whilst redefining existing and dominant constructs of masculinity. Saunders bases her work on family members and friends, also drawing inspiration from her experiences growing up in London whilst being of West-Indian heritage.

Using familiar fabrics, Saunders manipulates her garments through techniques such as creasing and shirring to turn everyday basics into statement pieces that reflect the wearer’s identity.

"I can't believe I'm in the top nine. As a company that is steadily rising in such tough times, this gives the brand a huge boost. It has been a dream of mine to be recognised by such a prestigious prize. Being in the final stages with other talented designers is just so amazing!"

Bianca Saunders SS21

Charles De Vilmorin

24-year-old designer Charles De Vilmorin launched his first collection in 2020. Based in Paris, Vilmorin’s creative process often comes from music and the vibrant, varied personalities of his family and friends. His designs use patchwork, quilting, and hand-painted designs to create pieces that add a more colourful and eccentric twist to tradition.

“With fashion I can express myself with colours, with light, with music, with set design, with a lot of different personalities”

Charles De Vilmorin: Couture SS21

Christopher John Rogers

Photo: Net-A-Porter

Describing his colourful designs as pragmatic, something new, and “something that I really stand for”, Christopher John Rogers’ label focuses on creating pieces that wearers can identify with and feel strongly empowered by. Rogers graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2016 and soon after launched his eponymous label.

Rogers’ designs have been worn by figures such as Naomi Campbell, Kamala Harris, Sza, and Tracee Ellis Ross. His Collection 007 has also grazed the April 2021 cover of British Vogue, worn by model Mona Tougaard.

“Through each collection I always begin with this idea of ‘colour as object,’ I think that is the main consistent thread through all of my inspirational research.”

Christopher John Rogers SS21

Conner Ives

Photo: Conner Ives

Though Conner Ives now resides in London, the New York-born designer is still very much enamoured by his North American roots. Inspired by notions of contemporary American identity, his AW21 collection explores female archetypes that he observed whilst in the States. Ives graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2020 - though before doing so had already dressed the likes of Adwoah Aboah for the Met Gala, and was hired by Rihanna to work for Fenty. His inspirations include American lifestyle designers Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Halston.

“Thinking of every last detail of your universe, I believe that these designers do that so eloquently”

Conner Ives Fall 2021

Kika Vargas

Photo: Andrés Oyuela

Based in Bogota, Colombian designer Kika Vargas’ eponymous label was first launched in 2011. Her designs are heavily inspired by her upbringing around art and architecture, and the designer often uses local materials to create striking patterns and silhouettes.

“My creative process for each collection begins with music. Before the pandemic we would travel a lot for inspiration. Now that we are staying home music has become even a bigger role in my inspiration”

Kika Vargas SS21

Colm Diallane

Multimedia artist Colm Dillane’s brand Kidsuper initially came to life as a reaction to his environment. Creating streetwear inspired by adventure and his childlike nature, the Brooklyn-based designer and entertainer first started his label by selling t-shirts at his high school. His creations proved a hit, and the designer went on to showcase his garments at Paris Fashion Week.

His pieces have been spotted on celebrities such as Russ, Tainy, and Christian Combs.

“I created a brand and created my own world, but I was interested in standing out from everybody as a child”

Kidsuper FW21

Nensi Dojaka

Photo: Raphael Bliss

Though Nensi Dojaka graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2019, the Albanian-born designer launched her self-titled womenswear line in 2017. She has since released a capsule collection with SSENSE, and landed a showcase with Fashion East at London Fashion Week. Dojaka often finds inspiration from 90s collections and through the fabrics that she uses; while also collaborating with her suppliers to create new fabrics. Exploring the notions of both strength and fragility, her designs reflect the essence of female nature.

Dojaka’s garments have been worn by the likes of Bella Hadid, Adwoa Aboah, and Kaia Gerber.

“[Fashion] is becoming more of a statement than just a function. It’s beginning to convey a message, which is often a positive one”

Nensi Dojaka SS21

Lukhanyo Mdingi

Photo: Design Indaba

Born in the city of East London, South Africa, Lukhanyo Mdingi relocated to Cape Town to pursue a Fashion degree at Cape Peninsula University. He traces his first push to become a designer back to 1996 while watching The Bold and The Beautiful – a soap opera about a fashion house business in Beverly Hills. Adding varying elements of texture and colour, Mdingi’s designs are often in collaboration with local craftsmen and artisans, giving them a platform in the process.

“There’s an essence of consideration and love and intimacy that’s part of that, that comes down to the bridge that has been created between artisanal craft and modern design - I think that something that’s really strong and evident within our pieces.”


Rui Zhou

Parson’s Graduate Rui Zhou developed a strong interest in the environment through her rural upbringing in Hunan, China. The Chinese designer incorporates this into her pieces, whilst also finding inspiration from Zen Buddhism, the traditional Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi, and the more subtle elements that she notices in her daily life. Rui has a close relationship with her customers, often communicating with them through social media to bring ideas forward and receive their feedback.

Her pieces can be seen on a range of musicians, including Rina Sawayama for her debut album cover, Dua Lipa for Rolling Stone, and sister duo Chloe x Halle.

“The aesthetic is to show fragility and strength and the relationship between tension and delicacy.”

Rui SS21 "Point Nemo"

The winner will be chosen later this year by an expert panel of judges, including tennis champion and LVMH Prize 2021 ambassador Naomi Osaka. In addition to €300,000, the winner will receive a year of coaching from LVMH’s top experts. Meanwhile, the winner of the runner-up Karl Lagerfeld Prize will be awarded €150,000 and a year of professional advice.

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