LONDON – Saul Nash is on a winning streak. On Wednesday afternoon, 10 days after winning the International Woolmark Prize 2022, the British Guianese designer was named the recipient of this year’s Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.
Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, presented the award to Nash on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony which showcased all of the BFC Foundation’s talent support initiatives, held at the Design Museum in London.
Alumnus of Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art, Nash has been recognized for his “innovative vision of design” and “the development of new materials while actively forging a new frontier within the industry – imbuing the design of sportswear of an exploration of heritage, performance and technique. innovation”, which was well demonstrated with its Woolmark Prize capsule collection.
The designer collaborated with Knitwear Lab of the Netherlands on high-tech, high tenacity merino wool compression pieces for the capsule. It was featured as part of the designer’s Fall 2022 collection during London Fashion Week in February.
“This week has been like a dream,” Nash said. “To be recognized in this way is an incredible vote of confidence – it would be for any designer, but I’m especially proud because it’s a validating moment for sportswear. The focus of my work has always been to push and to open up new possibilities, from challenging preconceived notions of sportswear to attempting to challenge perceptions of gender norms in menswear.
“It’s important to weave my own story into my work, keeping it personal and true to myself.…That remains the ambition – to stay focused on innovation, community and building conscious practice” , he added.
He is the fifth recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. Previous winners were Richard Quinn, Bethany Williams, Alighieri’s Rosh Mahtani and Priya Ahluwalia.
Since 2018, a designer has been selected each year by the BFC, in collaboration with the Royal House, for the prize. The trophy is inspired by the Queen Elizabeth rose and hand produced by Lucy Price at Bauhinia Studios and Birmingham’s Jewelery Quarter.
The British Fashion Council revealed that Nash, who is also a professional choreographer, was also chosen for his role as “a cultural innovator whose work opens up conversations about identity, masculinity and class”.
Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, said: “Nash has a unique way of combining functionality, technology and tailoring in her design practice, which has resulted in a new approach to luxury sportswear. His work explores the relationship between performance and menswear and is often presented through beautiful and breathtaking choreography. We are incredibly proud to recognize Saul and look forward to seeing his brand grow.
Her eponymous label, launched in 2018, made its London Fashion Week debut with Lulu Kennedy’s Emerging Talent Support Program Fashion Week 2020 for three seasons. Under the support of BFC Newgen, Nash began performing solo last October.
The designs, which fall somewhere between luxury, sportswear and streetwear, are rooted in his Caribbean heritage and upbringing in North East London. He often presents his creations in self-choreographed or co-choreographed performances, which best demonstrate how they are meant to move.
His fall 2022 collection was shown alongside a video, which was shot at one of London’s premier West Indies hair salons in Kensal Rise, where Nash felt he truly connected with his heritage.
“Designing sportswear is always about bringing it to that place between where I come from and where I’m going. For me, most of the time I had some sort of interaction with my culture was in the hair salon,” he told WWD at the time.
Elements that stood out included a mermaid motif, considered a benevolent deity in Caribbean culture; a print made from a Guyanese flag fluttering on a spotlight, which Nash says reflects the lush country’s landscape and embodies the vibe of a carnival-style celebration, and specially designed Nike sneakers for the show with soles made from components of dead animals.
Nash was also shortlisted as a semi-finalist for the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers last year and received funding from this year’s BFC Newgen program, alongside 21 other designers.