Our job would be lot easier if we organised a competition, delivered the awards and then forget about the winners and start thinking about the next edition. That’s what happens most of the times with contests, right? Once you give the award it’s like “off you go, now it’s your turn…” That’s never been our idea with ITS.
You’ve perhaps already heard the definition “ITS FAMILY” we like to use. A constantly growing network of young talents (our finalists), journalists, jurors, insiders… basically, friends who have understood the philosophy underlying ITS: together we are strong, together we can support and help each other. We strive to stay in touch with each and every member of this large family.
We especially do our best to help out past finalists in looking for new job opportunities when they are in need.
The careers of a number of past finalists is what makes us truly proud and gives value to our work in researching the most promising young talents. We’d like to give you just a few examples here. Hope you enjoy this ride!
Peter graduated from Hogeschool Antwerpen at the time of his selection for ITS in 2004. And he was a winner: Maria Luisa Poumaillou – the woman who helped launch careers of the likes of John Galliano, Helmut Lang and Jean Paul Gautier – chose him for the Maria Luisa Award which gave him the opportunity of showcasing his work in the celebrated Rue Cambon store during Paris Fashion Week. Christopher de Vos arrived as a finalist at ITS the following year. Together they created a powerful design duo and established a much-acclaimed fashion brand. Celebrated for its innovative and impressive prints, it is sold in some of the most important fashion destinations with several celebrities among its estimators.
We still remember our first meeting with Aitor in March 2006, while working at his graduation collection “When Footbal Hooligans Become Hindu Gods”. We were mesmerised right from the start. An ITS#FIVE winner hands down, Argentinian-born Aitor went on to structure and define his personal design philosophy, a revolutionary concept which has led him to explore several fields. He is creative director for Kasabian, directed the visual concepts and artwork for Damon Albarn’s first solo album and single and has recently released a jaw-dropping video portrait of actress Noomi Rapace, with a soundtrack exclusively developed by forward-thinking music producer Flying Lotus… You need more?
German designer David Steinhorst landed at ITS in 2008, freshly graduated from the MA course at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design with a superb womenswear collection inspired by the 1920s and Art Deco yet translated into modern femininity, a luxurious yet calm and balanced elegance. In addition, David has terrific hand drawing. One of the ITS#SEVEN winners, he went on to become Head of Studio for Antonio Berardi. He is now Head of Design ready-to-wear at Kenzo. /p>
Alithia is another graduate from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. The über-graphic collection she presented at ITS in 2008, inspired by the differences between the Western and Asian ways of dealing with proportion, harmony and composition, caught the attention of the international press with several features even in the following years. And how could it not be! We remember well how it all started out: a young student carving each and every single piece of that astounding graphic collage by hand… With work experiences at Viktor & Rolf, Valentino and Hussein Chalayan, today Alithia is Womenswear Head of Studio for Lanvin, working side by side with Alber Elbaz.
It would be hard if not impossible to deny that Justin is one of the most gifted milliners of his generation. In Stephen Jones’ words “it is very refreshing to see a different point of view in millinery at last. Justin’s hats have culture, and they are original”. Creativity pours out of Justin non-stop and apparently the problem lies in finding the time to produce all of the ideas that come to his mind. One of the sweetest souls we’ve ever encountered, Justin recently made headlines with two projects: the headpiece for Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” (“Justin is an amazing artist..he sculpted the head wraps to be strong, unique and iconic” said the actress) and Amal Alamuddin’s cream wide-brimmed hat for her wedding to George Clooney.
Matthieu has an ITS story that deserves to be told. Graduated from La Cambre, he arrived as a finalist in 2006. During the final evening he had a chat with someone about his love for Raf Simon’s work and how he would love to work for him. Raf Simons happened to be in the jury that year. Raf Simons happened to be the person Matthieu was talking to (at the time, there were no pictures of Raf around). So after internships at Balenciaga and John Galliano, Matthieu became Senior Designer for Raf Simons. Following which, he went to Maison Martin Margiela, where he became Head Designer for the Couture and Artisanale line and is now Head of Product Development.
Courtney McWilliams immediately made an impact as a finalist in 2010 with her menswear collection made of strong graphics and identity. A graduate from Royal College of Art in London, she first started out with her own brand, Courtney MC, only to be spotted out by Tisci at Givenchy, where she started out as Junior Menswear Designer, right after her participation at ITS. She then became Menswear & Print Designer, and is now a Senior Menswear Designer for the Paris-based brand.
Chau Har Lee
Chau won the accessories competition in 2009 hands down with some of the most impressive shoe designs we ever saw. Challenging the conventional materials used to develop footwear and suggesting revolutionary structures still unmatched today after 5 years, Chau’s career was destined to skyrocket. Her talent was spotted out immediately, when still at Royal College of Art, first by Georgina Goodman, then by Marlos Ten Bhomer. After ITS she went to design for Camper, Bally, Nike and is now Women’s Shoe Designer at Saint Laurent.