22 February 2014 by

'I Turned Into Cheryl Cole!' Alexa Chung On Judging The International Woolmark Prize

Alexa Chung Woolmark Prize

Alexa Chung in Valentino at the International Woolmark Prize [Getty]

It feels like mere days ago that we were chatting to Alexa Chung in New York about her front row wardrobe and now that fashion week fun has come to Milan, we found her FROWing again. But this time, Chungers had a special job to do: she's on the judging panel alongside style legends Frida Giannini and Franca Sozzani to find the winner of the 2014 International Woolmark Prize.  

After a global search across 20 countries and involving over 48 designers, five talents reached the final round: ffiXXed for Asia, Christopher Esber for Australia, Sibling for Europe, Rahul Mishra for India and Middle East, and Altuzarra for the USA. As well as prestigious recognition, the winner receives a financial contribution of AU$100,000 (WOWSERS) and the opportunity to be stocked in the most important retailers around the globe including Harvey Nichols, Saks Fifth Avenue, 10 Corso Como, Joyce, David Jones, Colette and mytheresa.com. And let's forget this is the prize that first launched the careers of Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent in 1954. No pressure then...

The awards event took place at the Triennale Museum and Alexa arrives wearing a cape dress covered in butterflies by Valentino topped off with apricot-coloured plaform heels. 'When in Rome! Or rather Milan,' she says of her wonderfully whimsical outfit. The style star took her seat alongside her fellow judges as incredible wool creations from the finalists hit the catwalk.

Woolmark Prize

The judges announce the winner, Rahul Mishra [Grazia_Live]

And the winner? Mr Rahul Mishra and his incredible hand-embroidered cocktail dresses. 'For me, Rahul has won because of his ability to apply his knowledge of embroideries through wool, one of the most versatile fibres with originality in an unexpected way,' explains Frida Giannini, Gucci’s Creative Director. 'His interpretation was so delicate and beautiful,' Alexa adds. 'I was really moved by Rahul's story. I believe he is well deserving of this award.'

Indeed, when Rahul accepted the award, he couldn't help but get emotional and a few sniffs were heard from the audience as the Indian designer delivered a heart-felt speech. 'I feel like this is a dream and this is giving me new hopes for my future career,' he said. 'This award will change the perception of global fashion in regards to Indian fashion and this is all because wool - an amazing fibre, the fibre of possibilities.' Congrats to that!

After the show, we grabbed a chat with Alexa for her take on the event and how those judging skills measured up...

Watch our interview with Alexa at the Woolmark Prize above


Q: How did it come about that you're working with Woolmark?
Alexa Chung: They called and asked me to be on the judging panel and it's not something I'd done before, but I looked into their work and I thought it was great that they support young designers. So in a selfish capacity, I was just excited to be introduced to new things.

Q: You're judging alongside some fashion greats - what was the dynamic like on the panel?
AC: I was really excited to meet everyone. It was quite an austere atmosphere at the start - I didn't realise it was going to be quite as stiff - but then we started asking the designers different questions and there were funny moments but I took it quite seriously as soon as I got in there because everyone else had this gravitas so I thought, "okay, this is the real deal". 

Q: What kind of judge are you?
AC: I literally turned into Cheryl Cole on The X Factor. I was crying, I was trying to mother people and I wasn't expecting that from myself because I've never done this before and I was like, "I'll probably be quite a harsh critic". But actually I was like, "Well done, you can do it!" and welled up a couple of times as well. Tim Blanks [from Style.com] and I were both crying in a corner. It was so embarrassing.

Q: How did you decide on the winner?
AC: I really loved Rahul. I thought his brain was exceptional and the way he gave the presentation was amazing. He also brought in this paper model he'd made to illustrate his vision, which was about the incredible wool journey from a sheep in a field back to the city. His interpretation of it was really delicate and amazing. 

Rahul Mishra Woolmark prize 2014

Rahul Mishra's winning wool creations [Getty]

Q: Is it important to you to champion up-and-coming designers?
AC: I think it's the most important thing to do. Emerging talents is a big focus for me and it's part of my role with the British Fashion Council too. The fashion industry is really complicated and tough so it's important to focus on creativity. Everyone needs an opportunity to start somewhere otherwise we'd miss out on all these creative geniuses.

Q: Are you conscious of supporting young talent by wearing their designs?
AC: Yeah, it's one of the only things I can do to help. If I'm attending events internationally, I try to make sure British designers are my first choice because I'm so proud of our homegrown talent and want to support it. She says wearing Valentino! [laughs]

Q: So have you been inspired to go home and do some knitting?
AC: No, I was actually like, "f**k!". I was really amazed, I was like, "Wow, these are true artists". You just don't think about all the detail that goes into a single thing. I mean, that was just wool. Imagine how many different variables there are. It was really impressive. There's so much to learn.

Read part two of our chat with Alexa and check out her greatest style hits below...

Alexa Chung attends the 'Charles James Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala in May 2014

Alexa Chung attends the 2014 Future Of Fashion Runway Show at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York

Alexa Chung is seen strolling on the 'Rue de Rivoli' in March

Alexa Chung in Valentino at International Woolmark Prize on 21st February 2014

© Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Alexa Chung at the Marc Jacobs show on February 13, 2014

© Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Alexa Chung at the Marc By Marc Jacobs show on February 11, 2014

© Paul Zimmerman/WireImage

Alexa Chung at Peter Pilotto For Target Launch on February 6, 2014

© Karwai Tang/WireImage

Alexa Chung at the British Fashion Awards 2013 on December 2, 2013

© Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Alexa Chung launches her Eyeko make-up collection at Selfridges on November 14, 2013

© Getty

Alexa Chung in Chanel at MoMA's 6th Annual Film Benefit, New York - November 2013

© Rex

Alexa Chung in Marc Jacobs at 'It' book signing, New York - 30 October 2013

© Rex

Alexa Chung in Valentino at Alexa Chung 'It' Book Launch, New York - 29 October 2013

© Getty

Alexa Chung at 2013 Whitney Gala And Studio Party - 25 October 2013

© Getty

Alexa Chung in Christopher Kane at 30th Annual Fashion Group International Night of Stars - 21 October 2013

Alexa Chung at Christopher Kane at London Fashion Week - September 2013

Alexa and Cara Delevingne at Mulberry at London Fashion Week - September 2013

Alexa Chung at Burberry at London Fashion Week - September 2013

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Alexa Chung in Jonathan Saunders at the Longchamp Regent Street Grand Opening Party - September 2013

© Getty

Alexa Chung out and about in London - 4 September 2013

Daisy Lowe and Alexa Chung at 'It' By Alexa Chung Book Launch Party - 4 September 2013

Alexa Chung in Carven at GQ Awards - 4 September 2013

Alexa Chung in Kenzo out and about in New York - 25 August 2013

Alexa Chung out and about, New York - 04 Aug 2013

Alexa Chung in Valentino shoes available at mytheresa at Bvlgari evening party - July 2013

Alexa Chung at Chanel show, Haute Couture Fall Winter 2013, Paris Fashion Week - 2 July 2013

Alexa Chung at House of Holland Resort Collection dinner, New York - 19 June 2013

Alexa Chung at Tate Americas Foundation artists dinner and after party, New York - 08 May 2013

Alexa Chung at Met Gala - May 2013

Alexa Chung out and about in New York - 3 May 2013

Alexa Chung at Catherine Martin and Miuccia Prada Dress Gatsby Opening Cocktail Party, New York, - 30 April 2013

© Getty

Alexa Chung At Heathrow - 23rd May 2013

Alexa Chung at Heathrow Airport, London - 26 April 2013

Alexa Chung at Chanel Tribeca Film Festival Artists Dinner, New York - 24 Apr 2013

Alexa Chung at Coachella - April 2013

Alexa Chung in Carven at British Airways & Visitbritain celebrate the opening of The Big British Invite, New York - 21 March 2013

Alexa Chung at amfAR Benefit Gala - February 2013

Alexa Chung at the British Fashion Awards - 27 November 2012

Alexa Chung at Chanel event - 12 October 2012

Alexa Chung in J W Anderson for Topshop at J W Anderson - February 2013

Alexa Chung at Mulberry - February 2013

Alexa Chung at Valentino Master of Couture opening - November 2012

Alexa Chung at Moschino Cheap And Chic at London Fashion Week - 15 September 2012

Alexa Chung at House of Holland, London Fashion Week - 15 September 2012

Alexa Chung at Margaret Howell, London Fashion Week - 16 September 2012

Alexa Chung at Mulberry, London Fashion Week - September 2012

Alexa Chung out and about, New York - 15 July 2012

Alexa Chung at Field Day Festival - 2012

Alexa Chung at Louis Vuitton fashion show, Shanghai- 19 July 2012

Alexa Chung New York Fashion Week - 10 February 2012

Alexa Chung at Chanel, Haute Couture Fashion Week - 03 July 2012

Alexa Chung in Christopher Kane at Scottish Fashion Awards - 11 June 2012

© Getty

Alexa Chung at the Launch Of The Alexa Chung For Madewell Fall 2011 Collection - 21 September 2011

Alexa Chung at Louis Vuitton show, Paris Fashion Week - 05 October 2011

Alexa Chung at Marc Jacobs show, New York Fashion Week - 13 September 2010

Alexa Chung at Yves Saint Laurent's New Fragrance 'Belle D'Opium', New York - 17 June 2010

Alexa Chung in Marc Jacobs at Costume Institute Gala Benefit - 7 May 2012

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Alexa Chung at Chanel, Paris Fashion Week - 9 March 2010

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Alexa Chung in Chanel at British Fashion Awards, London - 07 December 2010

Alexa Chung in Erdem skirt at London Fashion Week - February 2012

Alexa Chung at Burberry show, London Fashion Week - 21 September 2010


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