Tuesday night marked the finale of the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize where Canadian designer, Thomas Tait, won the grand prize.
Tait’s sculptural pieces beat out fashion heavyweights Louise Goldin, Mary Katrantzou, Hermione de Paul and the lone shoe designer, Char Har Lee for £25,000 and the chance to stage an event in any Dorchester Collection hotel of his choice.
Judging his work were fashion luminaries including Manolo Blahnik, Elizabeth Saltzman, Stephen Jones, Yasmin Le Bon, Daphne Guinness and Giles Deacon, who was stuck in Paris and fellow Canuck Bronnwyn Cosgrave.
The decision was tough. Blahnik agonized over the decision, “It was so hard! I never want to judge another competition again! They are all so talented!”
This is the first time fashion has joined forces with a luxury hotel group to award a fashion honour. But as fashion and the Dorchester hotels are synonymous with luxury, the partnership was well matched.
FLARE caught up with the Montreal native after the show to see what winning the Prize meant to him.
What does winning this award mean to you?
Tait: I’m so honored to have won this prize. Being recognized by such an incredible panel of judges is such an amazing and rewarding feeling. Having the chance to be associated with and being a part of something so luxurious and famous as the Dorchester Collection group is something that designers my age could only dream of. I feel very lucky.
How will the prize help you in your next collection?
Tait: I feel it’s important to mention that even though funding is a vital part of starting a business, it is not what created or motivated my work. I got involved in fashion because it’s something I feel naturally drawn to. I work every day in the studio with my hands and that is what makes me happy, even in a dimly lit warehouse in Hackney with a hungry tummy and a leaking ceiling like last season. Doing what I do just feels right; it keeps me inspired and motivated. Winning this prize has opened a tremendous amount of doors for me and the funding will facilitate the process of my work. Next season I know I’ll be able to pay for fabrics on time and not have to constantly worry about how I’ll make it through another week. Oh, and I’m definitely getting some bright lights for the sewing machine!
Where do you want to host your event and why?
Tait: I haven’t decided yet but I am quite tempted to go to NYC. I think New York could use a little glamour and, having been to New York Fashion Week, I feel there isn’t the same excitement and raw energy you get here [London]. So bringing some of that over to North America would be cool. America is also a market of it’s own which has the capability of standing on it’s own. Fashion has a completely different language there so I think it could be a really great learning experience.
How do you think luxury fashion and luxury hotels connect?
Tait: I think the luxury industry is something that used to be a bit more of a niche. Now, I feel people are forgetting that fashion was and hopefully still is grounded in the luxury industry. The attention to detail, service and craftsmanship that the Dorchester collection group applies in the their hotels is something that I think needs to be reawakened in the fashion industry.
Your win is a big moment for Canadian designers. Do you think that by winning this award, it will draw more of a spotlight on Canadian designers?
Tait: I’m sure it will; that’s inevitable. I think Canadians are proud to be Canadian and it’s nice to receive so many lovely messages from people back home who understand the importance of me leaving to go work in one of the world’s fashion capitals and, in a sense, represent them on an international scale.
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