Nensi Dojaka, a 28-year-old Albanian women’s clothing designer known for her striking dresses and mesh loose-fitting garments, has won the 2021 LVMH Award for Emerging Talent.
The fashion industry’s most prestigious award was presented to a visibly shocked Ms Dojaka by French actress Isabelle Huppert at a ceremony at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris on Wednesday. One of the nine finalists for the LVMH award, Ms Dojaka, who works in London, will receive €300,000 (approximately $356,000) and a year of mentorship from the professional ranks of LVMH, the French luxury group.
The competition is back this year with a winner after the 2020 pandemic prompted the jury to split the prize money equally among the eight finalists. A graduate of Central Saint Martins whose body sculpture designs—a mix somewhere between clothing and lingerie—are regularly worn by the likes of Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Kaia Gerber, Ms. Dojaka has attracted an online cult following with her skinny but painstakingly constructed asymmetrical pieces. Earlier this year, her black mini dress was featured in the top products of the 2021 Lyst Index, alongside designs from colossal brands like Bottega Veneta, Prada and Hermès. Later this month, she will also show her fourth runway collection at London Fashion Week.
According to Delphine Arnault, the executive vice president of Louis Vuitton and the mastermind behind the LVMH award, the judges, including Kim Jones, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney and Virgil Abloh, were particularly impressed with the high quality of Ms. Dojaka, its distinctive point of view and a start-up company that had successfully thrived during the challenges of the pandemic.
“I think we all saw a young brand with real potential to grow,” said Ms Arnault. “These initial ideas are very clear and we feel she can tap into that thread to broaden and develop her product offering to have even more creative and commercial potential for a wider audience.”
Ms. Dojaka confirmed that expanding her offering would be a priority when it comes to deploying her profits, in addition to building a more permanent team to help scale a brand that already has Mytheresa and Matchesfashion.com among its retailers. charges who wear her designs.
“I couldn’t believe I had won – I was shocked,” she said after the ceremony. “But I’m also very happy because I have a vision of femininity that I want to share with the world. I like female bodies. I like collarbones and backs. I think my little black dress did as well as it did this year because people are excited to go out and party again. They want to feel sexy and chic.”
More than 1,900 designers have applied for the award, which is open to designers under the age of 40 who have produced at least two ready-to-wear collections. At a time when it is more difficult for young brands to survive than ever before, and after a triple vote, the judges decided this year to divide the second prize of the Karl Lagerfeld Special Jury among three finalists: Rui Zhou from China, Lukhanyo Mdingi from South Africa and Colm Dillane from New York label KidSuper. They each receive 150,000 euros and a mentorship of one year.
While cash will no doubt be a boon, all three said it would bring the most valuable guidance and insights from LVMH executives and designers to their fledgling businesses.
“We’re all from very different places, we know a little bit about what money can do, but opening up the insider fashion world – Paris – to us will be so valuable,” Dillane said, noting that he’s “not best friends.” with Marc Jacobs – until now.”